Imbued with a moody and ominous depth that faux-industrialists such as White Lies and Editors would trade their entire black wardrobe for, No One Can Ever Know continues The Twilight Sad’s consistently outstanding form. Although the album is, according to vocalist and guitarist James Graham, “sparser” and “colder” than previous efforts it is certainly no less powerful and should retain the support of fans who continue to celebrate the deafening bombardment of guitars that the band bring to the stage.
Thematically, No One Can Ever Know details a descent into total loneliness: The “we” of 2009’s ‘I Became A Prostitute’ largely becomes the more personal “I” as Graham isolates himself from the listener: “I’ll never go with you tonight” from Sick seems to stand out in particular as the lyrical centre of this wonderfully downbeat album.
The more industrial and electronic elements that build upon 2010’s EP The Wrong Car never seem forced or like they are a stylistic gimmick. More often than not, these developed soundscapes often provide moments that are more uncomfortable than relentless guitar feedback: the glistening synth lines that glide throughout the climactic second half of ‘Not Sleeping’ cement the unbearable tension as they cling to the reverb soaked clatter of booming drums. It’s as dramatic and intense as it is sonically spacious and it is these gaps that also reveal vulnerability beneath the driving urgency of tracks such as ‘Don’t Move’ and ‘Don’t Look At Me’. Electronic touches are also used to great effect with Sick’s lurching beat, picked guitar pattern and sparse arrangement bearing a slight resemblance to Radiohead’s ‘2+2=5’.
‘Another Bed’ stands out as the “closest thing we’ve ever had to a proper single” with the video to accompany its release featuring Stuart Warwick’s creepy protagonist holding a dinner party with four marionette corpses. Whilst this does prove to be far more lively and interesting that your average episode of Come Dine With Me, it almost seems to be an attempt to redress the balance of ‘Another Bed’s cautious status as an obvious “single” and it isn’t a far cry from something you might hear at an indie disco. This is however nothing to sneer at when the songwriting is so strong and the atmosphere is as deliciously tense as it could possibly be.
Proof that the use of synthesisers doesn’t mean a hyper-polished and sterile effort from an already established band, the earthy sleaziness of The Twilight Sad that has always fascinated and revolted in equal measure is perhaps more engaging on No One Can Ever Know than it has ever been before. The album doesn’t waste any time in ensnaring its listener and once again The Twilight Sad have gifted us with a phenomenal piece of work.
Released 6th February 2012 by Fat Cat Records