Superfan: a person who has an extreme or obsessive admiration for a particular person or thing – Oxford Dictionary.
Urgh. I don’t like the idea of being a superfan of anything. It’s uncool, it’s obsessive. It blinds your objectivity.
And yet my affection for The Twilight Sad is as close to superfandom as I've been for any artist. In the last couple of years I've been to their gigs on English soil, followed them to Barcelona, Amsterdam, and in a month I’ll be heading north of the border for their monumental homecoming at Glasgow’s famous Barrowlands. And I rarely leave the house.
The Twilight Sad are dangerously close to answering the categorically unanswerable – just who is my favourite band of all time? It's a question forever loaded with subjectivity, biased by your age at the time, the circles you ran in. But The Twilight Sad have been a constant in my life for over a decade now and where other favourite bands have peaked and long fallen by the wayside, the Twilight Sad have endured and, what is more, are apparently getting better.
Poo-pooing any kind of suggestion that they might have gone off the boil at five albums deep, It Won/t Be Like This All The Time hits hardest of any of the band’s records and following the incredibly strong fourth – and previous Twilight Sad favourite – 2014’s Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, that in itself is amazing.
The addition of electronic 80s power-pads and synth section is an emboldened and truly inspired move; frequent but not overused, it is a pre-emptive strike to any suggestions of a band playing sad indie by numbers at this stage. Not a bit of it here naysayers.
Alongside the fabulous singles ‘I/m Not Here [Missing Face]’, ‘Videograms’ and ‘Vtr’ there are more new favourites on the album than you can shake a stick at. ‘Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting’ and ‘The Arbor’ are both excellent, the former a real classically formatted Twilight Sad number, the latter a gorgeously neo-gothic jewel. For something a little different, ‘Girl Chewing Gum’ is coarse and gritty, with a driving rhythm that Jesus and Mary Chain would love to have dreamed up in the late 80s.
From what we’ve all read leading up to the release, It Won/t Be Like This All The Time is certainly their most poignant record as well as highest profile. Vocalist James Graham’s lyrical openness supports this poignancy time and again. Desperate lyrics are nothing new on a Twilight Sad release of course, but where James usually cloaks his words in just enough mystery to keep them anonymous, this time the words feel completely shackled to James. The whole album feels like a personal exorcism. It’s like a horror film you watch through the cracks in your fingers. And yet, the album is liberating – you can feel total catharsis happening before you - the weight being lifted, the demons departing.
When time passes, it’s interesting to wonder if this is The Twilight Sad album I'll listen to most of all; I’m not sure. Nostalgia often plays a huge part in that kind of thing, but purely as an artistic body of work it simply has to go down as the band’s finest hour.
Superfan I may be – but there is zero bias at play here. This is no skewed vision of the album because I want and need it to be amazing in order to further fuel a decade-long relationship. Positive reviews from fans – new and old - across the board back it up - this album is absolutely seminal. In their time and mine.