Twilight Sad - Lee’s Palace - Feb. 29. 2012.
By Elena Maystruk
Looking at The Twilight Sad: their ethereal, dark music, album art that can only be described as vintage-inspired grotesque, the band’s modest demeanour between songs was almost uncanny.
“We’re just a small band from Glasgow, Scotland” James Graham (vocals) says, thanking Torontonians for a warm reception at Lee’s Palace on Feb. 29. The crowd was focused on the line-up of entertainment and a quiet, enthusiastic turnout was doubled when the group began to play.
Members, James Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane, (guitar / accordion / noise), Craig Orzel (bass), and Mark Devine (drums), were in Toronto promoting their new album No One Can Ever Know. Recorded in London, England, from January to March of last year, this new output by The Twilight Sad was met with mixed-to-positive reviews from media sources. Pitchfork Media commented on the album after its release on Feb. 6, 2012, giving it thumbs-up for successfully preserving the band’s vocal and stylistic strengths, noting failure to complete an intended creative overhaul of the band’s trademark style. NOW Magazine and NPR Music gave it a raving review.
Their live performance showed a cleaner approach to the group’s synthesized collaboration between ominous noise and eerie distorted music. By cutting down on walls of static, which held back the band’s music in their previous album, the band focuses on incorporating structure and simplicity. ‘Kill It In the Morning’ fused perfectly, the ethereal, electronic distortions provided by Andy MacFarlane, with the booming base lines of Craig Orzel whose talents are amplified in a trembling live performance.
The varied ranges of James Graham’s voice were at times lost in the web overlapping reverberations on stage, but when Graham raised the volume to hit peak notes, his pleasant, heavily accented wail was intensely felt in the crowd.
Guitarist Andy MacFarlane describes this album as a "sparser sound, with a colder, slightly militant feel.” Recently released video ‘Another Bed’ (track eight on the album), achieves a bleak, cold atmosphere and it’s hard to look away.
On stage their effect is not the same, but perhaps in a good way. Techniques that added to the intended cold malevolence of the album were not always present. Instead the live music transported Lee’s Palace into a dimension of dark intensity.
This switch in atmospheric pressure between the band’s recorded music and live performance can perhaps be explained. When the album was recorded, a number of strategic elements went into manufacturing desired musical effects - for example, recording the drums separately to allow for manipulation later in editing. On stage, the band’s physical deliverance of the music humanized the songs presenting a raw live performance.
After the band’s short thank-you speech, more appreciative applause urged the Scottish band into the last few songs of the night. The Twilight Sad gave Toronto a musical portrait of synth-rock fusion European flare for the dark side.