Scottish post-punk revivalists The Twilight Sad have returned with their fifth studio album, It Won/t Be Like This All The Time. These 11 vibrant and introspective tracks continue the forward progression and growth of the band’s multidimensional sound. James Graham delivers his soaring vocals with his Scottish lilt, topping off what the The Cure’s Robert Smith describes as “the best band playing the best songs–consistently brilliant, emotional, intense, inspiring, entertaining.” This torch-passing appraisal sums up everything that makes the new record so great. Though the parallels between the The Cure and The Twilight Sad are entirely evident, this album does retain its own sonic identity.
It Won/t Be Like This All The Time opens in dramatic fashion with “[10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs],” a song that blossoms from a repeating synth bass over a single spacious hi-hat into a wall of guitars, synths and flourish of electronics. All the while, the percussion stays purposely understated in the mix. The song serves as an explosive introduction to a dynamic album, as Graham calls to “start the show” over the band firing on all cylinders.
The appropriately-titled “Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting” is a polarized rocker that mixes fuzzed-out lo-fi guitars with atmospheric synths as Graham forcefully commands, “do what you’re told.” The cut’s delicate and brooding verses build to the aggressive choruses.
“The Arbor” flips the script by featuring a big percussive drum intro with a clean, sweeping guitar intro by Andy MacFarlane. The song makes a more restrained but no less emotionally intense delivery with Graham singing, “why couldn’t you leave it be?” This all builds to an expansive synth interlude.
The upbeat “VTr” is an anthemic hybrid of The Cure and Death Cab For Cutie, with an extra flourish of AFI-esque bombast. Graham’s heavy accent enhances a fresh and unique sound, while his words carry layers of depth. The pace slows down for the synth-laden ballad “Sunday Day13,” featuring one of Graham’s most intense and emotional vocal performances: “It won’t be like this all the time/ I hope you never change your mind.” The song has a simple mournful piano pattering over oceanic keyboard pads, leading to some convincingly dramatic moments.
The album’s longest track, “I/m Not Here [Missing Face],” clocks in at nearly six minutes and returns to the The Twilight Sad’s more layered and upbeat sound. The song’s propulsive beat has a head-bobbing bass line and complex synth and multilayered singing to fuse theatrics and urgency.
“Auge Machine” is one of the most guitar-heavy rockers present, with Graham’s vocals clearly cutting through a Cure-esque sheen. The band’s style naturally jumps from elements of indie, punk, pop and garage rock throughout, making for a varied and satisfying ride. The synth-heavy mid-tempo rocker “Keep It All To Myself” provides a prominent, bouncy drumbeat. Graham powerfully sings the song’s title over a soaring guitar attack.
“Girl Chewing Gum,” another aggressive cut, takes on a more lo-fi punk sound, building into a perfect synthesis of attacking guitars, vocals and electronic flourishes. The pace only quickens on “Let’s Get Lost” with a breakneck speed-drumming under a half-tempo vocal, before an engrossing crescendo takes hold. The album closes out with the layered, mid-tempo “Videograms.”
“It Won/t Be Like This All The Time” is a triumphant development of The Twilight Sad’s sound, going beyond simple revivalism and catapulting the band further into its own form.
Follow writer Mike DeWald at Twitter.com/mike_dewald.