Weekly Album Appreciation Club: The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters


Nov 24 2007, 1:27

Same drill as last week. So I’m gonna go ahead and copy paste that opening text in here…

I got this idea for what could be a great group here on last.fm. Sort of a weekly themed discussion on good music out there. Kind of the idea behind book clubs, but applied to music. I’ve already created that group, but I need to people to join, get the word out, maybe I can reach someone who would be willing to participate.

I can’t impose my own personal liking to the entire group, I haven’t created any music connections, because no music has been discussed yet. So, I decided that the best way possible to get the word out was for me to do something like it with my favorite albums of this past year. If you think this is interesting please consider joining the group :)

The Twilight SadFourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters

I've always hated style tags on artist. I've never been good at tagging them either. I mean take The Twilight Sad for example, how could you possible fit them into one category? If I were to made one up right now it'd be something in the likes of ambient noise folk rock. Mixing up all those things might make them worthy of the dreaded "experimental" tag. So, we are taking about an experimental ambient noise folk rock act from Scotland.

Oh, and don't forget that since they are signed to an independent record label Fat Cat Records, they are also "indie". That makes them an indie experimental ambient noise folk rock act from Scotland. That just sounds silly! I'm having enough issues with people tagging artist indie, that's not a music style. Ya know.

Moving on! The Twilight Sad came onto my attention just when I desperately needed guitars back in my ears. And if I really try to analyze it, they might be the most representative band of all my musical development stages. Maybe I've been growing into liking artist like them all along. That makes me happy.

They are loud yet melodic, relaxing yet not boring, they can bring the drama and not overplay it, with good lyrics that you can actually get a sense of what they're talking about not trying to bend the line between poetry and common sense! I love them!

As I said, this album is hard to describe. There are so many things going on at once, like I tried to explain with my rant against tagging.

Again, feel free to lash at me afterward...

01 Cold Days from the Birdhouse
The first time you listen to it, could completely fool you in what’s about to come. Actually, I must confess the first couple of times, I used to skip it because I had already heard “That Summer at home…” and wanted to get there faster. Shame on me! By the end of this record, you will understand no other song could have ever opened this album… well maybe Three Seconds Of Dead Air if they had included it. Maybe

This song is just beautiful and melancholic. Starting off with the constant piano keystroke. It kind of gives the impression that he couldn’t get himself to actually concentrate on writing this song.

The whole feeling behind it: I don’t want you to go but I won’t force you to stay. I won't try to understand it either, seeing that is impossible for anyone to actually understand what another person goes through, feels, think... we might try get a sense of it, but we will never achieve it.

“I won't wear your shoes, I won’t clip your wings” perfectly sets up the first outburst of music.

He realizes how important this is to him. I don’t care what you’ve done, just come back. “You come back, you come back”. Becomes a truly desperate cry. The sadness is palpable at this point.

In the end, we always try to find a way to blame it on the other. It’s just easier for us to deal with it. “Where are your manners?” And he goes over that line over and over, like trying to convince himself. And the piano comes back. *sigh* A beautiful song indeed.

Cold Days From the Birdhouse (live at Moshulu, Aberdeen)

02 That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy
I believe this song really sums up The Twilight Sad experience.

Powerful and emotional lyrics? Check. Rhythmic clear drumming? Check. Melancholic music enhanced by use of accordion? Check. Accurate use of bordering in screaming then shifting to sweet almost vacant vocals? Check.

So yupe, if you like this song you’ll pretty much like ‘em! At least that’s what happened to me.

I don’t know what else could be added, every single second of this song just proves what I just said. Except this song makes me wanna watch the movie "Stand by me" again. Trying to put it into the context of this song, figure out why they went with that title. I've only seen it once, in spanish, so when I heard this song I didn't put the two of them together until after I read something on the internet.

I think this song has something to do with getting a girl pregnant at 14 years old, like the song clearly states. I can't imagine a bigger shock to a parent. The real life drama it must bring. How life changing that may be for all those involved.

Parents feel betrayed. They don’t want to understand this situation, especially not think their “kids” are setting themselves on fire in the bedroom. Reality is most kids are doing it by 12. (Not speaking from my own personal experience, I feel I should clarify that!)

Whenever something upsetting happens it can bring indifference. Most adults, even in important situations like this, won't accept their sons and daughters as individuals capable of taking important decisions. So, they decide to make it for them, try to hide how they truly feel, how angry they are. Just because they don't want to disrupt the family routine.

You on the other hand are left with a complete sense of silent desperation. You want to be taken seriously, be a part of it. Don't act as if nothing had ever happen. Don't talk about me like I'm not present in the room. Man, I'm feeling agitated just thinking about all the times, I've gone through this. Actually felt like this.

Back to the song, I think it comes as a shock to him how this all plays out. He had his mother as a loving figure, now seen as a different person, almost an enemy, a traitor. (pause, take a look at the album cover please). While the father, who I'm guessing he's never been close to, takes the difficult decisions and with it the role of the bigger enemy.

I have to add I love how he just screams in this song. Desperation! Anger! Frustration! Uff, I love this song. Seriously, I can't state that as I'd like to. I love this song.

That Summer, at home I had become the invisible boy (Live at Latitude)

03 Walking for Two Hours

This song has one of the saddest accordion melodies they've written. You are so far from home, and wailing to the sound of this. Boy, there's problems here.

Don't you hate it when people pop into your day when you have specifically wished for no one to be on your path, because you've been having a dark day. You don't want anyone to see in your face how horrible you feel. Well, this song is your soundtrack to that kind of days. Sometimes, it's more like your kind of week... month.

"I've watched you grow cold, there's no tears left" Sends chills down my spine. Beautiful and so sad. I wonder will they ever be able to write "happy" songs with the kind of mood they've set up and their name. Hhehee.

Walking for Two Hours (live at Debaser, Sweden)
I found a Walking for Two Hours live video! Whoopeee...


04 Last Year's Rain Didn't Fall Quite So Hard

Love that title! The epitome of positive thinking: “things could be worse”. “No, it’s just not possible”. “Think. It could be worse”.

This song is just tragic.

“She sings with a whole in her skin, I only want to say goodbye” repeated over ambient like melodies filled with piano, accordion and toned down guitars. A final farewell bid.

Last Year's Rain Didn't Fall Quite So Hard (live)
Hold your breath The Twilight Sad fans, some guy randomly booed at the end of the song. Shame on him!

05 Talking With Fireworks/Here, It Never Snowed

While you are lost in the ambient goodness of Last Year’s Rain. BAM! This song comes along. Big drums, big noise, big accordion. Everything is big and loud in this song. Even the accent, is more marked than ever. Bridges seem to explode in your ear! WHOAAA! Amazing. Then it fades out into another ambient, self-included, song entitled Here, it never snowed. And it completely fits. I don’t know how they do it. I honestly don’t.

After that first part, you think everything will fall apart but what it does is tidy up into a sweet melody that builds up to another blazing noise part. Maybe that's why it references to fireworks. Nice work!

I think this is about surrendering after you've been betrayed.

"Does your fear not grow when you see that you are all mine, with a knife in your chest"

Yeah, that happens. There must be some really strong good memories to hold on to, right?

Talking With Fireworks (Live at Bilken Club)

06 Mapped By What Surrounded Them

This song puzzles me. I'm gonna go do some guesswork that the little Emily has had a dramatic experienced that has taken away all the joy that usually accompanies children. Although not all children are happy by nature. Maybe it was caused by this other person he constantly mentions ("you've shot her down") with a tone of anger and sorrow, which is why "these walls are filled with blame". He feels sorry for what has happened to Emily, and so will you.

What I can't figured out is what happened to Emily? Maybe she's the girl implicit on "That summer at home..." Is not actually clear to me. But it'd make sense. In that case, poor little Emily.

Mapped By What Surrounded Them (Live at Empty Bottle)

07 And She Would Darken the Memory

My favorite accordion meets noise track! That’s because the accordion is more melodic than ever and the noise is the biggest there is on this album. That ending is just mind blowing! And eardrum blowing too! I want more! I often listen to this track on repeat, like you could have easily imagined.

The music is just too powerful to handle in one single play. It’s ecstatic. When he screams "head up dear, the rabbit may die!", I mean, I don't know what's the problem with the rabbit but if he wants it to die, you want it to die as well. Die damn rabbit, die!

Oh my, what's up with that rabbit you say? The only thing I can think of is a reference to the Alice in the Wonderland rabbit. A quick search shines some light on rabbits, they were considered a symbol of fertility, parties and being drunk in the ancient aztec culture. Maybe she's a rabbit in that aspect. Hmmm, what? Moving on...

He certainly is fed up with her - and the rabbit. He's had enough, he's calling it quits. Their relationship has turned into a complete bore, they are together just for the sake of not being alone. They can't face each other and speak out loud what they both must be feeling. That's it! Off with the rabbit's head!

It was initially called "And She would darken the memory of youth", so I guess this is not the first time they've been together. Maybe the first time around they were young and everything was great, this second time not so much. People grow apart.

And She would darken the memory (Live at Cabaret Voltaire)

08 I'm Taking the Train Home

There's drama everywhere in the song. The lyrics are perfectly complemented by the music that bursts out when he wails "why can't you come around?".

Doors slams open! Caught! Yeah, she caught him cheating. Maybe this is the same girl as in the last song, if that's so, he meant to get caught. Hmmm, sleazy tactic! He knows it, and now he feels sorry for how he’s hurt her.

“Your green eyes turn to blue”

I'm taking the train home (live at Fat Sam's, Dundee)
This is possibly my favorite track to see them perform. On You Tube that is, since I haven't been able to see them live. Life is unfair sometimes, more like all of the time. They make the noisiest endings! I actually found a comment I made on this when I search for the video. “I love it how James just stands there at the end, like he's thinking ‘this is oh so quiet, it's that all the noise you can bring?’”. I stand by that! You. Just. Watch.

09 Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

The closer. Very ambientish-noisy-eclectic track this is. Still sad, very sad. Doesn’t really follow a melody or anything. It’s like everyone’s on their own. The piano is front and center, it gives it the much needed stability. Fits perfectly with the piano in Cold days from the birdhouse, like they are tying it all up. Closing the curtain and saying “thanks for listening”.

Oh, don't forget about the group. You can also read my take on Menomena's Friend And Foe


Videos updated: August 08. Due to video removals from YouTube


  • champersnova

    This is the BEST Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters review I have ever read. By far it is too! Thank you for such a nice read! There is not much to add, naturally. But I will still stick my nose in you know. Now, that's my nature in this virtual world. hehee About the Rabbit in And She Would Darken The Memory, can't help thinking of Donnie Darko. Rabbit is like the soul of the whole movie. Leading the story as the bad guy at first and then turning to be the victim. How interesting. Still dunno, what might be the connection between the tune and the movie?! About Emily, she's occupied my mind quite vey much too. Cause you know, knowing a young girl commiting suicide is harsh. These things easily effect me, mostly in a bad way. Then I thought, if Emily could be the girl got pregnant in That Summer At Home, I Had Become The Invisible Boy? Maybe cutting herself with stained glass window is a metaphor maybe not. But what I take is - if she is the same girl with Emily - her childhood is over with the incident and all the reaction from adults. No more playing with toys and sitting in primrose. So maybe she did really commit suicide at the end. Who knows? I am sure I am not making any sense here, am I?

    Dic 31 2007, 14:09
  • pecusita

    Of course you are making sense! I did think of Donnie Darko's rabbit as well. All this rabbit references puzzle me. As for Emily, maybe you are right and she did commit suicide by killing her inner child. :( I wish I could read an interview where they'd discussed these songs. I'm not sure if such thing exists though. Anyways, thanks for the kind words!!! :)

    Gen 5 2008, 15:16
  • champersnova

    Promise to ask them this question if I can ever manage to interview them. That IS one of the wishes for the new year. haha

    Gen 8 2008, 3:04
  • pecusita

    Thanks mototo :) I was wondering how you came to find this post, it's been so long, but then I noticed that it's still showing on most of these songs. I think people are not writing enough about them! Reading back on all this, I understand how important it is to write journals. To capture that feeling. Glad to know I feel even more strongly about them after all these months. I might as well start writing my journal about the new EP, it might be loooong you know :)

    Mag 18 2008, 18:59
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