Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters is the debut album from The Twilight Sad, following close on the heels of their self-titled EP that was released late last year. It continues solidly on the promise that short release, yet due to track repeats feels at least partially like a letdown in some ways.
It may partially be due to some antiquated definition of what an EP is supposed to entail in my own mind, but for some reason a nine-song full length that repeats three songs (out of five) from their EP, plus has one track of only hazy noise feels like barely more than another EP after all is said and done. It's probably a minor concern, but when several of the new tracks feel like new bursts that kick me in the pants, it seems strange to then fall back to songs I've heard so many times before.
But enough of my own personal definitions for what is expected and what is not on releases. As mentioned above, The Twilight Sad basically have continued their overall sound on this release, with absolutely scorching, soaring guitars and noisy accordion and other effects, plus thick rhythm sections and more heavily Scottish accented-vocals. It seems a fairly basic combination, but the young group keeps things interesting by twisting things up slightly. Opening track "Cold Days From The Birdhouse" kicks off the release with some droning noise and a repeated piano note while multiple layers of guitars melt together. Before you know it, the track has blasted forth with hammering drums and blistering guitars that pile into a squalling heap.
From there, the group alternates between tracks that appeared on the EP (including the solid "That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy") and another new song, but the album doesn't really truly take a step to another level until about halfway through. It's there that "Talking With Fireworks / Here, It Never Snowed" arrives, and the massive-sounding song is easily one of the best things they've done to date. Opening with a wall of pure texture, the track breaks off into a quieter, more introspective section before again giving way to an even bigger and louder section, which they then repeat once more before ending with a quiet coda. It's all over in just over five minutes, but shows off the sheer breathtaking vistas they can reach when they're firing on all cylinders.
Other than the closing, album-titled track, the other new songs on the release also show some promise, including the almost sing-along (for this group anyway) "Mapped By What Surrounds Them." Musically, they're doing what post rock groups have been doing for some time now, working the quiet/loud dynamic in hyper-dramatic ways, but it's the addition of the Glasgow burred vocals that add an element of humanity that really gives the group an edge. Having heard their first EP, it's not quite as much of revelation as it would have been, but it's still pretty darn good. These youngsters sure do make a racket sound good.