The Twilight Sad's latest album, 'No One Can Ever Know' is the result of a conscious decision to change the band's sound. Any decision that attempts to avoid stagnation, in a climate where bands often seem almost afraid to try anything different on the next album, is certainly admirable. So, gone is the crashing wall of wailing guitars. But at its heart, the album still has the confidence and individuality that make the Twilight Sad stand out, something they've maintained since their first releases.
They begin the gig with the heavy droning beat from 'Kill It In The Morning', the final track on the new album. The unsettling feeling that their music has always induced in their audience so well is even more powerful live, and as the first synth melodies shiver out it's clear that this 'new sound' is going to be even more potent live. Lead singer James Graham barely opens his eyes throughout, contorting his face as he shudders along to the beat. His vocals are one of the best things about the band - consistently strong, clear and melodic - in fact sometimes on record they aren't quite given the spotlight they deserve. Graham's intense concentration may be contributing to the fact that tonight his voice is something of a magnet, grabbing the audience's focus and holding it. Although that's not to say that the rest of the band aren't equally talented; the echoing thrum and fuzz of the surrounding sound contrasts well with the solid beauty of his voice.
The between-song chat is kept to a minimum, Graham mumbles with a smile in reply to a heckle of "I love you", that "you wouldn't, I'm a total nobhead" and aside from their murmured words of gratitude, that's it. Each song is blended into the next; they are clearly comfortable playing the new songs, side-by-side with some of their older stuff. The melodic hum of 'And She Would Darken The Memory' swells around, as Graham howls "the rabbit might die" then, without missing a beat the next track is reverberating around the dingy, fairy-light lit interior of The Fleece. The constant barrage of sound is arresting, but in a consuming, intense way and the open (if slightly chilly) interior of the venue suits their sound well. They seem genuinely surprised and grateful at the turnout, modestly calling themselves "only a tiny band from Scotland. The Twilight Sad may only think of themselves as a tiny band, but they are a band guaranteed to give an atmospheric performance and in the context of tonight's show their latest album has really starts to make more sense for me. Captivating, engaging, and well worth watching.
The Fleece have got some really great gigs coming up, take a look (the Xiu Xiu date in particular should be incredible).