The Twilight Sad

It Won't Be Like This All the Time

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Based on their music's deep-seated loneliness, it would be easy to assume that the Twilight Sad don't have a friend in the world. However, their sixth album It Won't Be Like This All the Time is informed, and improved, by their collaborations and friendships. Chief among them is the Cure's Robert Smith, who became a fan after hearing 2014's excellent Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. Considering how committed the Twilight Sad are to making brooding songs with surprising warmth, it makes sense that Smith is a kindred spirit; while making It Won't Be Like This All the Time, the band used him as a sounding board. Perhaps coincidentally, hints of Smith's band can be heard on highlights such as "The Arbor" and "Videograms," where glassy guitars and synths swirl around James Graham's croon, evoking Pornography-era Cure. This is the Twilight Sad's first album for Rock Action, the label run by Mogwai, another Scottish band who knows a thing or two about making intensely emotional and loud music, and "Auge/Maschine"'s massive riffs reflect the groups' common ground. During the years after Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave's release, Graham developed a more confessional songwriting style with his other band Out Lines that surfaces on this album as well. It Won't Be Like This All the Time emphasizes just how willing the Twilight Sad are to confront life's darkest moments and feelings -- when Graham sings "It's just another heartache to me" on "Let's Get Lost," it could be the band's motto. "I/m Not Here [missing face]" is another fine example of how they pack an entire relationship's worth of emotions into a few well-chosen words (in this case "You're too close for comfort/You're too close to comfort me"). It Won't Be Like This All the Time is also the band's most collaborative work to date. After longtime drummer Mark Devine left the group early in 2018, Graham and Andy MacFarlane welcomed touring keyboardist Brendan Smith and bassist Johnny Docherty as full-fledged band members, and their contributions shine on tracks such as "10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs," where synths take some of the edge off the propulsive rhythm section -- but only slightly. Elsewhere, the Twilight Sad balances some of their loudest, most abrasive rock in years ("Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting," "Girl Chewing Gum") with dense electronics reminiscent of No One Can Ever Know ("Sunday Day13)" and the driving post-punk they've done so well since the beginning ("VTr"). As it acknowledges current hardships and allow the tiniest glimmer of hope for tomorrow, It Won't Be Like This All the Time proves the Twilight Sad are making some of their most vital music more than a decade into their career.

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