Over ten years ago, the Kitchens Of Distinction made their name with a killer combination of thrilling guitar effects and emotionally-driven vocals. Now, in 2007, The Twilight Sad have come the closest to emulating those times. Crucially, they have plenty of their own ideas to add too.
Scotland has produced its fair share of great bands over the years but very few sing with a regional dialect. This is probably because the Scottish accent can be an acquired taste, normally reserved for folk music or Jesse Rae records. James Alexander Graham, however, has the perfect passionate vocals. Another unusual element is the odd subject matter. Beneath the creepy Boys' Own-style cover art (sleeping mother suffocated by her son with a pillow) there's lyrics which recall a disturbed childhood ("Where are your manners?", "The kids are on fire in the bedroom"). Yet whilst the imagery is potentially horrifying, the music is wonderful.
From the shuddering opening to 'Cold Days From The Birdhouse' to the distorted piano melancholia of the title track, exciting moments are to be found virtually every step of the way. 'Walking For Two Hours' is full of beautifuly structured wailing guitars whilst Graham repeats the line "You're so far from home" in desperation. 'Talking With Fireworks/Here, It Never Snowed' takes what sounds like a breast-beating traditional song (military drums and all) and then throws in crescendos of noise; it shouldn't work but it's surprisingly stirring and moving. The most stunning moment on 'Mapped By What Surrounded Them', however, is when the storm dies down to reveal some haunting harmonies that wouldn't seem out of place on an early Breathless record. Elsewhere, layers and layers of noise are piled on top of each other whilst Graham manfully makes himself heard. It all makes up a hypnotic and wonderful racket.