Albums that attack you from nowhere are a rarity. A friend sent me an email with a link in it, the subject "I think you need to listen to this". The link was to The Twilight Sad's myspace page. One click was all it took, the music streaming through my tiny headphones and sending chills down my spine. With Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters they've created one of the most accomplished debut albums you'll hear all year.
This is an album of immense lyrics that create great huge paintings of romantic poetry all set against a vicious backdrop of overdriven guitars and feedback. The band are based in Scotland and the songs are all delivered in a thick Highlands drawl that at times spit and hurl the words at you and at other times silky smooth and warming. All the songs deal with the usual perils of life and love, the heartbreak and rejection entwined with the periods of elation and happiness that can only come with finding love. There's a hint of Morrissey and The Smiths elaborate playfulness with words, the images that are conjured up similar in vain; "Why do they come when it's always raining" from Walking For Two Hours bringing to mind dark Sundays on a small coastal town. That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy brings to mind dark family secrets and sounding like some Ian Banks novel: "The kids are on fire in the bedroom" twisted against the oddly haunting "I'm fourteen and you know I learnt the easy way". And She Would Darken The Memory also feels as though it's dealing with some childhood trauma, "Head up dear, the rabbit might die" followed quickly by "I'm putting up with your constant whine and I won't last too long" sounds dark and sinister, all set against the backdrop of charged guitars and crashing drums, the vocals dip into dark howls and yet hit rosy highs. With all these songs the music just further augments the scenes created. The guitars delve into post-rock territory in places, the charged and overdriven chords crash and burn into periods of delicate introspection. The drums also follow a similar pattern and are able to craft whirlwinds of noise before switching to passages of quiet and gentle brushing.
This is an album which, although only nine songs in length, feels like a epic novel. The lyrics are full of imagery and an intensity that you rarely get to see or hear these days. This is further enhanced by the wall of sound created by a band that squeezes the very life out of their instruments. If you thought The Arcade Fire has this corner of anthemic and literary indie-rock covered, think again.