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Scottish and Surly, The Twilight Sad Gets Apoplectic

The Twilight Sad makes epic songs that sound both punishing and pretty.
The Twilight Sad makes epic songs that sound both punishing and pretty.

A Glaswegian rock band that punctuates its guitar-fueled rock blasts with moody interludes and bits of esoteric instrumentation, The Twilight Sad makes epic songs that sound both punishing and pretty. With a thick brogue that gives his music a heavy dose of Scottish surliness, singer James Graham paints vague but distinct portraits of alienation and internal strife throughout Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, The Twilight Sad's fine full-length debut.

In "That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy," Graham croons lines about a seemingly idyllic childhood ("a strong father figure," "a loving mother") before pulling back to reveal kids, presumably metaphorically, "on fire in the bedroom." After a slow build — and before a slower fade out — guitars begin to swirl and snarl around Graham as the arrangement gets downright apoplectic, hitting a roaring peak as more and more paranoia sets in. It's a short-lived boil-over, but The Twilight Sad makes it stick in the memory long after the feedback dies out.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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