The Twilight Sad

No One Can Ever Know

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The Twilight Sad's sweeping, Wall of Sound style seemed to be as inherent to the band's music as James Graham's unmistakable, burr-heavy vocals. However, on No One Can Ever Know, they deliver a set of songs inspired by Liars, Cabaret Voltaire, Autechre, and Public Image Ltd -- all artists with a hard-edged sound almost the exact opposite of the band's previous territory. The band drafted Two Lone Swordsmen's Andrew Weatherall to help them pull off this change, and given how later TLS albums drifted toward rock and industrial leanings, he was the right man for the job. The spooky backing vocals on "Not Sleeping" are very Drum's Not Dead-era Liars, while the keyboards that replace the band's shimmering guitars, and the clanking industrial percussion that ghosts many of the drumbeats here manage to feel natural even if they're very different than what came before. Philosophically, the bands that influenced No One Can Ever Know's sound are kindred spirits to the Twilight Sad's bleakness, though Graham and company express themselves far more earnestly than most of those acts. Without the lush sound that softened their edges and leavened their black-on-black moods, the band sounds more desolate and desperate than ever; fittingly, this album trades in suppressed and repressed secrets and memories, and worst fears being realized. "Don't Look at Me" decries growing old alone, while the album ends with "Kill It in the Morning," a dark grind that leaves listeners no reprieve. The Twilight Sad are still at their best when there's something soaring in their music to at least hint at some hope, as on "Dead City" and "Nil," where synth strings add a little cover to Graham's almost unbearably naked vocals. No One Can Ever Know reaffirms that the Twilight Sad are unafraid of challenging themselves or their listeners, and for better or worse, there's something admirable about that uncompromising attitude.

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