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People talk about difficult second albums, or third album syndrome, but no-one pins any particular stigma to the fourth album. Maybe this is because by that time the artist in question is expected to be established or expected to have given up.
Whatever the theory, Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is the fourth studio album by the Scottish band The Twilight Sad. It is a record which may not have happened - keyboard player Martin Doherty left after the previous album to find success with Chvrches - but it manages to overcome such setbacks to serve as a document of all the very best bits of the Twilight Sad so far. The shoegaze-style wall of guitars sounds more powerful than ever, yet the dramatically sparse synth and drum machine sound has not been sidelined either.
Recorded earlier this year over three weeks at Mogwai's Castle Of Doom studio, the influence of their slightly more senior colleagues is evident. 'There's A Girl in the Corner'. 'Leave this House' and 'It Never was the Same' inhabit the same spooky space as Mogwai's soundtrack for Les Revenants, although the Twilight Sad manage to capture that essence rather than simply copy the idea.
The first sound you hear is an eerily chiming guitar on 'There's a Girl In The Corner', and that lead track encapsulates most of this record. Pounding percussion, powerful guitars, sinister keyboard lines and a dominant vocal, intoning "she's not coming back." It is a remarkably powerful opening.
It doesn't let up from there. 'I Could Give You All' and 'Last January' are more uptempo yet no less intense, the latter seemingly portraying an uncomfortable relationship, "it's your eyes, touching my eyes." Lyrically at least, the Twilight Sad are still looking into a window of someone's life and turning away in despair.
The bleakest title here, 'Drown so I Can Watch' ("I put you through hell/ but you carry it all so well") reinforces this but also showcases their songwriting skills, with multiple melody lines interweaving like a clever folk song. This skill is also used on 'Leave This House' which has a desolate synth line accompanying a melody worthy of King Creosote.
'In Nowheres' sees a dark wall of guitars attempting to submerge James Graham's vocal just like they tried on their earlier records, yet he always comes across as an equally powerful presence. The refrain "No more nightmares, let them go" stays with you after the song ends.
The title track also contrasts the doom-laden backing with James's soaring vocal, and a chord progression which hints at a slower, more sinister take on 'Tainted Love', believe it or not.
'Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep' could be a piano based lullaby except for the threatening pulse of the bass and the eerily reverbed vocal. Lines like "I'm leaving you just to be cruel" and "there's nothing left for us, we've been left behind" are too unsettling for anyone to sleep through.
This fourth album comes across as a consolidation of the edgy noise of their early records and the electronic aspects of its predecessor. They sound as powerful as ever, and their penchant for weaving subtle folk melodies amongst their noise is still pretty special. Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is a highpoint for the Twilight Sad and in many ways it is the best record they've made to date.
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