Music Reviews
Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters

The Twilight Sad Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters

(Fat Cat) Rating - 10/10

There's a fair chance that The Twilight Sad will be labelled the Scottish Arcade Fire before long. I hope I wasn't just the first. It'd be a shame for that to happen however, as Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters knocks the impressive Neon Bible into a cocked hat. If you've yearned for a band that takes that dramatic indie-rock template but injects a bit of post-rock drama into it, then boy, have you ever come to the right place. In fact, The Twilight Sad fall more into the field of what Hope Of The States were aiming for with the initially impressive, but ultimately lacking in longevity debut that I fawned over those years ago. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but consider: a band that inject some real emotion and dynamic excitement into a comparatively standard template. Lots have tried, but few have succeeded. The Twilight Sad are most definitely one of the successes.

The album opens with a builder, Cold Days From The Birdhouse, which commences with a touch of slide guitar and piano before introducing The Twilight Sad's defining features, the thick Scots brogue of James Graham. Whether crooning over the verses, injecting some genuine tenderness into the likes of And She Would Darken The Memory, or belting out the anthemic chorus of lead single That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy, it's the band's most potent weapon in a considerable arsenal.

Slightly awkward comparisons to U2 have already been made, but please don't go thinking this is another god-complex Celt come along to save the world; rather think Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat if he could really sing; think the impassioned yelp of Win Butler through the misty eyes of a bemused adolescent. That seems to be the premise behind the single, probably the standout track here: borrowing a drum loop from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Maps, Graham invokes all the happy upbringing you can imagine until you're crying out as to why he just sounds so unfeasibly sad. "I'm fourteen, and d'you know, that I've taken the easy way," he explains before extolling his strong father, his loving mother - the mind's eye conjures an idyllic nuclear family. But "the kids are on fire in the bedroom"? How literal is this? I need to know!

But he's fourteen, and in all that adolescent angst and rage, he has a broken heart. It's a spellbinding narrative, bolstered to great heights by an elegiac backing redolent of fellow Glaswegian's Mogwai, or even (whisper it) Godspeed! You Black Emperor. There's the same sense of scale as you'd find on Lift Yr Skinny Fists..., but crammed into the small-town post-pubescent reminiscences of a Scot - the nation that makes the traditional stiff British upper lip seem positively continental. The backdrop is awesome: on Talking With Fireworks/Here It Never Snowed, The Twilight Sad make a mockery of the Arctic Monkeys' recent attempt at a thrashy intro on Brianstorm. It opens in an almost Mahlerian maelstrom of noise that completely fills your head, before descending into its cynically tender verse. That hail of sound recurs though, and you'll be thankful for it every time.

As I'm writing this I keep wanting to give honourable mentions to songs: for example, the loving vocal tone employed for "I'm putting the boot in" (check it out, in Scottish it rhymes) on And She Would Darken The Memory - when Graham sings "I'm putting up with your constant whine," it really throws me: the words are quite harsh, but the tone, it's so... kind. He's quite the singer, not just a vocalist. I could eulogise the looping delays of Last Year's Rain Didn't Fall Quite So Hard... I could go on and on.

No Ripcord head honcho David Coleman pronounced The Twilight Sad as single of the month a while back; on this evidence, the Scots may just be fighting it out for album of the year. I'm very wary about giving out 10's these days, but I think I may just have found the first record in ages to warrant it.