As the nights grow longer this side of town and the ground becomes a mosaic of orange and gold, there's something a little bit sinister in the autumn air. Beautiful, sure, but biting. If autumn changes the world this much where you live, imagine what it's like to live out these darker, downbeat months in Scotland. In fact, there's very little need to imagine anything at all; just buy Forget The Night Ahead
and do exactly as it tells you; wrap yourself up warm, and let these heartfelt, distorted, brilliant indie-rock songs take you some place special.
The amazing thing about The Twilight Sad's sophomore release is that they don't repaint the world in primary colours or black and white lines; they simply craft soundscapes and crescendos that match up to the things you see. Much like post-rock's better acts, the music they offer is less an exercise in forced imagery and more a masterclass in evocation; mid-tempo, laced with darkness and largely intangible, the group has immersion nailed down, and vocalist James Graham helps construct an abstract but familiar universe with subtle lyrics like, 'And if it's lying on the table, don't be so shy.'
The backdrop is a noisy barrage of layers guitars and pianos that remain easy to distinguish as the songs progress; distortion and magnificent production aids the momentum of these songs, which never really depart from a medium tempo but transition beautifully from painful guitars with potential to a dreamy and moving climax. Distant shots of static and echoed vocals accompany At The Burnside's outro, and there's a moment at the start of Floorboards Under The Bed which sees Graham's voice exist alone in such startling clarity that it's entirely possible he's just walked into the room and is standing right next to you. Such poignant touches render The Twilight Sad's music more affecting than it would otherwise be capable of attaining.
Where previous effort Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters relied on its softer Sigur Ros-esque passages, Forget The Night Ahead makes no such concessions; there is variety in volume and there are tender cuts, like This Room, but they all carry the same brooding edge that is so well executed in pretty much every instance. It's fair to say that if there is a real fault with The Twilight Sad's 2009 effort, it stays in its comfort zone too frequently; the record would probably benefit from a little bit more diversity, but in truth, the way the band have mastered their musical corner is breathtaking. The sparse approach that preceded Forget The Night Ahead is likely to be missed by some, but it's still present in more manageable doses, and has been replaced at the foundation by an infectious rhythm section.
The nature of this record means it takes a little time to sink in, and in that regard, very little has changed; in contrast to their country's other indie-rock outfits like Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Twilight Sad are more about the overall sound than pop hooks and anthemic choruses. That said, Forget The Night Ahead is a catchy outing; it just offers depth and intrigue beyond its surface. When played in the right mindset and location, it's absolutely perfect, transcendent in its dark and detached beauty and conjuring images of dark October roads where the headlights are few and far between and the rain is blurring the windscreen. As summer fades out, and the pop-punk and indie-pop you were listening to takes a back seat to more introspective, contemplative soundscapes, there is genuinely no better soundtrack than Forget The Night Ahead.