A co-worker recently asked me why I don’t like U.K. bands. Reflecting on CD racks loaded with The Who, The Fall, Joy Division and The Cure, I dismissed the charge out of hand … but later that day, it occurred to me: I really don’t like many contemporary U.K. acts. Take ’90s holdovers like Radiohead and the reunited Portishead out of the mix, and the Isles have been, from my vantage point, a vast and dismal musical wasteland throughout the 2000s.
A notable exception: The Twilight Sad, a Scottish band that distanced itself from the tedious vanilla of Snow Patrol and empty twitch of Franz Ferdinand upon the release of its superb ’07 debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters. Gritty and real without resorting to Arctic Monkeys/Art Brut night-on-the-town tales, that record established The Twilight Sad’s noisy and harrowing elegance—a sonic style achieved to grand effect again on follow-up Forget the Night Ahead.
Opening track “Reflection of the Television” sets it all up: pounding drums, bristling guitars that loudly roar to life and James Graham’s thickly accented vocals—clamorous but melodic through and through. And if you thought the first album’s “The kids are on fire in the bedroom” couldn’t be topped in the disturbing-lyric department, listen closely to the excellent “I Became a Prostitute” or “The Neighbours Can’t Breathe.”
See, I do like U.K. bands. Well, one, at least.