To get straight to the point, The Twilight Sad have changed. In place of the roaring crescendos of noise and crunching bass lines, the band have created a sparse and dark record, full of throbbing synth loops and an almost industrial sound at times. Importantly however, ‘No One Can Ever Know’ remains instantly recognisable as the same band. They haven’t thrown away everything from their past; rather evolved to a clearer, more powerful sound.
Take lead single ‘Sick’. Its opening electronic drum loops and repeated guitar line are more reminiscent of something you wouldn’t be surprised find on a later Radiohead record. There are many moments where you expect the band to explode and drown the music in noise, but they keep themselves on a similar level throughout. It’s a careful and considered approach that has paid off in spades and said care is reflected in its length; 9 tracks, just over 45 minutes and not a second spent on notes that aren’t necessary to the sound.
Not that the record stays at the same level for it’s entirety, it just saves it’s explosions for when they’re truly necessary, preferring to build with doom-laden synths for most of the choruses, the previous energy replaced with a hard to escape, claustrophobic sound. Still, the band haven’t lost the ability to dole out the energy when it’s really required. Take the pounding drums on ‘Not Sleeping’ that take the listener by surprise, the pacey bass line of the Joy Division-esque ‘Another Bed’, and the underlying dance vibes of closer ‘Kill It In The Morning’.
One thing that remains constant from the band’s history is the strength of frontman James Graham’s vocals. Here he tells tales of past lovers and dark secrets, his cryptic lyrics (and frankly, his accent) masking his true meaning. His delivery meets the music wonderfully, equal parts delicate and foreboding.
The feeling ‘’No One Can Ever Know gives off more than any other is that of confidence. Here is a band who know exactly what they’re going for, and have put in the work required to craft it to perfection. Whereas previously they could hide behind walls of sound (and it was good, don’t get me wrong), here each note and drum beat are carefully laid together to create a dark beauty rarely heard. It’s the sound of a band in their prime, ready to make a serious impact.
By Sean Collison