The Twilight Sad: The Persistence of Memory | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

The Twilight Sad

The Persistence of Memory

Oct 13, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


"Someone going on about how amazing their life is, that's pretty depressing to me. But a song about death, yeah, that really lifts my spirits," laughs Twilight Sad frontman James Graham. And if, like Graham, down for you is up (to borrow from the parlance of Lou Reed), you'll find solace in his act's newest LP, Forget the Night Ahead.

While hitting the studio after a long stint on the road, the band found themselves compelled to lasso the visceral power of their live show in lieu of the meticulously layered compositions of their 2007 debut, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters. And they captured an ear-rupturing cacophony with Forget the Night Ahead that has much in common with their Glaswegian brethren Mogwai—with whom they've toured extensively—while not forsaking The Twilight Sad's innate melodicism.

"Well, Mogwai's definitely louder. I could only watch one out of every three shows," Graham laughs. "We didn't want to make a kind of clean, polished record. We've moved up with songwriting, but we wanted it to be quite intense, which everyone says our live show is anyway."

Thematically, the record ties into a bleak, Joy Division-via-Nirvana grandiosity with its starkly evocative imagery. Graham is reluctant to provide specifics, but admits, "This record's about trying to forget about part of your life. I kind of lost somebody as well, and I think with the lyrics, they're not too obvious initially, and you have to look into it a bit. It's pretty brutal to be honest. It's about me making a bit of a fool of myself."

The artwork also complements the storyline of the record—specifically, the arresting cover image, which features a female figure with hands over her face to avoid seeing two background figures lying in embrace. "Some of it's quite shocking," Graham says of the album art. "We have a song called 'I Became a Prostitute,' so for us it mirrors the theme of the record. We work very carefully on the artwork, and this one's from more of a feminine perspective"

When it's suggested to Graham that the artwork recalls Sonic Youth's in its cartoonish depiction of morose archetypes, specifically the Richard Prince painting that adorns the cover of Sonic Nurse, he recalls a story about a gig opening for Mogwai in Northampton, MA, home base for Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. "Thurston was at the show, and we had this tour EP for sale, where we basically put masks on the Goo kids' faces as the cover. We were terrified, wondering what we should do, like, 'Should we hide the merch?' We didn't, and he didn't say anything, fortunately," Graham laughs.

So the endless cycle continues for Twilight Sad, as they're again preparing to hit the road to promote the new album. But this time the process stings with a dose of irony for Graham. "You know, I wrote these songs as a sort of therapy, to get this out of my system. Forget the Night Ahead, that's what I wanted to do, forget. And now, I'm going out to play these songs live for the next year or so, so I'll just be reminded of it every night," he laughs.



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