Monday, May 21, 2007

Talking With Fireworks

I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised at how quickly and how deeply the debut record from Scotland's The Twilight Sad, Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters, seeped into my consciousness. After all, this record contains a lot of the ingredients that I cut my own musical teeth on back in the 80s: soaring melodies, swirling guitars, grand emotions worn proudly on the sleeve, and an almost religious passion for the music. For those of you who, like me, grew up on early U2, the Alarm, the Waterboys, Simple Minds, and Big Country, this is so in your wheelhouse. That said, The Twilight Sad have a fair amount of 90s shoegaze thrown in for good measure, but the upfront baritone of lead singer James Graham cuts through the facelessness of that genre like a knife.

As if by second nature, The Twilight Sad churn out what Mike Scott once called "The Big Music," and Graham's thick Scottish brogue only adds to the drama. And to return to the Big Country comparison, Fifteen Autumns also serves up some of the best e-bowed guitar that you will have heard since The Crossing. The difference between then and now, however, is that on top of the long arcs that the band's guitars send heavenward, there is enough noise to evoke My Bloody Valentine and its progeny. The result is a tension, perhaps, between the sacred and the profane, between prayer and walls of noise.

This is a record that is satisfying on so many levels. It's emotionally exhilarating and anthemic. It bridges the space between quiet internal longing and expressionistic bombast. All of which is pretty impressive for a debut record from a few Scottish youngsters who sound wise beyond their years.

MP3: The Twilight Sad - "Cold Days From The Birdhouse" from Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters
MP3: The Twilight Sad - "Walking For Two Hours" from Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters