The Twilight Sad

s/t EP (Fat Cat)

A couple months back the Twilight Sad quietly released its self-titled debut to minor, scattered acclaim. Unless you happened to have caught one of the Scottish group's smattering of East Coast shows (including a three-week November residency at Piano's in New York City), it's likely you missed out on one of the most promising bands — and best releases — of 2006. The five-song, North AmericaÐonly EP reclaims the wall-of-noise pop entropy of '90s bands like My Bloody Valentine and Ride. But in a year mainly characterized by the ad nauseam recombination of '80s and '90s sounds, the Twilight Sad distinguishes its retro guitar aesthetics with a crackling, unbridled passion.

"The kids are on fire in the bedroom," James Graham sings on "That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy," in a sharp Glaswegian brogue. His tightly coiled but almost childlike delivery imbues his half-wistful, half-magical lyrics with an edgy insistence. The quartet as a whole divines languid melody hooks from constellations of distortion and thundering rhythms on the other discursively titled standouts as well ("But When She Left, Gone Was the Glow"; "Last Year's Rain Didn't Fall Quite So Hard"). The former starts off with a baleful two-note melodica line and what sounds like a wax cylinder recording of an upright piano, overheard through a heating duct three stories up. Two minutes in, "But When She" erupts with howling, spacey guitar and gargantuan drums that propel its melancholy to stratospheric heights without drowning it in bombast. The group is well matched with Peter Katis, knob-twiddler for Interpol and Mercury Rev, who has mixed its full-length debut — Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters — for a spring release. — J. Niimi

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