As their name might indicate, The Twilight Sad are a thorougly dark band. Their debut’s title, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters conjures an extended period of cold, and musically, the album extends that sentiment through heavy post-rock guitars, steely rhythms, and desperate vocals. The Glaswegian foursome drive home a stark, but dreary, portrait of the North through a combination of droning and grinding sounds accompanied by a deep, lonely voice.
What is perhaps The Twilight Sad’s greatest strength, their post-rock style of emphasis is what creates the stormy atmosphere. In their heavy, melancholy modern rock, the band lets guitar effects loose to generate a thunderous wash of distortion and drive while underneath it, the bass rolls and the drums. “Walking For Two Hours” is one of the best examples. The bands restrains their distortion well, too, pulling back on a few tracks, like the piano-tapping opening ballad “Cold Days From The Birdhouse” and somber title track.
Alongside the album’s musical overdrive, singer James Graham’s thickly-accented vocals absorb most of the spotlight. Not only is his accent impossible to ignore, but his tone is an affecting gloom, and his lyrics are just as dark. On “That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy”, he casually remarks several times that “The kids are on fire in the bedroom”. Most of the following tracks really feel complete thanks to Graham’s dominating voice.
Just about everything about The Twilight Sad’s debut is Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters is dark and near-depressing, but the power is impossible to resist. It’s a battle between kinetic energy and the melancholy that resists it. Somewhere between modern- and post-rock, this post-modern Scottish album is a tribute to the cold North.