Release Date: Jul 10, 2012
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Indie Pop, Alternative Dance
Hipsterland has produced hundreds of Eighties revivalists, but with his leather jacket and pinupboy good looks, Florida's George Lewis Jr. might be the only one who actually looks like he could've been in an MTV haircut band. Here, he collapses Prince, Depeche Mode and Corey Hart into a richly schlocky LP, bleeding neon all over songs that would be worthy side-closers on any Breakfast Club-era breakup tape.
Here’s a confession. Four summers ago, I was driving along a long wooded backroad in my clapped-out matchbox of a first car. It was late and I was rushing home, the kettle-screech whistling of air through my window smothered by loud music. I was 19 and had been working two towns over in a video shop, and it had been a shitty day.
I don't know much about the man who writes Twin Shadow songs, but the man in them doesn't really seem like a good dude. In fact, he's a total dick most of the time. "I don't want to believe or be in love," was George Lewis Jr.'s climactic mission statement on "Slow", and the rest of Forget negated its new romantic sounds with accounts of people who chose to ignore his warning.
Twin Shadow’s sophomore album has been buzzed as a second coming, hedging that George Lewis Jr.—the band’s axeman, frontman and effete ladykiller—will reclaim rock the same way The Strokes did in the’00s, just with a little more hair gel and synth. Or two. Or eight. Twin Shadow’s first album, Forget, was as slick and cool as they come, borrowing some aspects from the growing glo-fi movement with killer guitar riffs and a healthy dash of funk.
If 2010’s ‘Forget’ placed George Lewis Jr somewhere between the preened pop of Prince and the romantic loquacity of Morrissey, then on ‘Confess’ he’s upped the ante to a full-throttle synth assault. Two years ago his debut emerged into a scene saturated with the early-hours bedroom jams of the chillwave and lo-fi generation, and slick maestro Twin Shadow cut through the fuzz with a perfectly polished collection of new-wave-indebted heartbreak pop. While his contemporaries seemed to be harking back to a bygone age of crystal-clear production by reinterpreting it through a haze of distortion, he embraced every heart-pumping, blood-rushing, head-spangled element of it.‘Confess’ continues in much the same vein.
There is quite a lot of crying - of the necessary and unnecessary varieties - on Twin Shadow's sophomore album, which picks up right where his emotionally charged debut left off. (Indeed, the track listing on the physical edition starts with the number 12 rather than one.) The songs are about hindsight, words that should've been said and endless relationship frustration, all sung with equal parts urgency and cool-headed precision by George Lewis Jr., who solidifies his reputation as a pop-rock balladeer of the finest order, unafraid to indulge in either sentimentality or spitefulness. Yet for all his angsty reflection, you get the distinct sense he isn't wallowing: he'll do it all over again.
Call it puppy rock: that unexpected bevy of warm feelings that makes an otherwise glam musician pump out an album full of love songs. But for George Lewis, Jr. (aka the sole proprietor of Twin Shadow), romance has taken a sharp left turn, leaving him with 10 tracks of sheep-in-wolf's-clothing love(ish) songs. The herd of golden retrievers in his heart has long since vacated, the sky on his relationship is falling, and he'll be damned if he doesn't vamp through the emotional apocalypse in a stylish ensemble.
Early-hours sadness is a common feature of electronic pop but erstwhile bedroom producer George "Twin Shadow" Lewis Jr finds inspiration elsewhere. His terrific second album is influenced by dawn motorbike rides rather than nocturnal regrets and, though the muted electronic washes that open Golden Light are passing nods to introspective R&B, Lewis's songs have more in common with widescreen 80s anthems and the euphoria of fellow revivalists M83. He's shameless in going for the pop jugular at times – see the brazen key change on Be Mine Tonight – but there's a tricksy intelligence at work here too.
Much was made of the fact that Twin Shadow's second album was largely inspired by a motorcycle crash George Lewis, Jr. survived, but Confess thrills not just because it savors the triumph of cheating death, but because it celebrates living more chances. Lewis, Jr. throws aside the soft-focus balladry and wistfully guarded emotions of his debut Forget for flamboyant and dramatic action, and few sounds convey this widescreen yet heart-on-sleeve feel better than '80s-inspired synth pop and new wave.
Nakedly borrowing from Reagan-era electronic pop is a fairly successful tactic nowadays (Vampire Weekend, for example, have built an entire career around Paul Simon’s Graceland), but in most cases, the new-wave touch is a fairly shallow tactic—a smattering of spiked-up brass synths, perhaps, or a percolating drum machine with the kind of short echo Phil Collins loved to employ—designed to lend a band a Members-Only-jacket cool that has quickly become more annoying gimmick than endearing quirk. Yet, as most indie-pop acts have moved on to co-opting ‘90s R&B, at least one artist remains true to a more authentic emulation of all things ‘80s: George Lewis Jr. , a.
It can't be often that one of 4AD's rota merits a comparison to Lady Gaga, but there's much in Twin Shadow's second album that ploughs the leather-clad, hog-riding 80s rock-pop furrow that Gaga attempted on her last record. But where she fell for the occasionally overbearing bombast of the era, George Lewis Jr seeks out the finer details, using his second album to add more polish and shine to the arch synths of his debut. The insistent Five Seconds, its first single, sounds like it's been plucked from the triumphant prom scene of a long-lost John Hughes film, while the Boss/Police feel of Run My Heart manages to come across as both threatening and uplifting.
To announce Confess’ leadoff single “Five Seconds,” Twin Shadow’s George Lewis, Jr. posted two motorcycle stories on his Tumblr. One described a brush with death, the other on rediscovering his love for riding years later. In the accident story, Lewis muses: “As the bike slipped from under us my head filled with words…I remember in that moment I wanted to say everything to him.
Twin ShadowConfess[4AD; 2012]By Josh Becker; July 11, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetLike 2010's Forget, George Lewis Jr.'s latest album, Confess, opens with a pulsating kick drum and intimately delivered lyrics directed at some unnamed love interest. But whereas “Tyrant Destroyed” percolated over the course of its three and a half minutes, never quite reaching the climactic denouement we might have expected, “Golden Light” practically explodes with a bombastic chorus, Lewis's voice sounding more insistent and enthused than ever. Indeed, Confess feels like a wide-screen, high-def sequel to his debut's more restrained charms.
George Lewis, Jr. is an honest man. He’s been refreshingly upfront about his decision to grace his second album’s cover—“I’m a good-looking guy”—as well as his adoration for his much-maligned home state of Florida, the superiority of Puerto Rican hairdressers, and his voracious appetite for drugs and women while on tour. His 2010 debut as Twin Shadow, Forget, followed a very real breakup with a breakup record, and was as personal as it was polished.
Countless bands and artists have prided themselves on recycling 80s new wave influences into a fresh sound, some successfully and others quite forgettably. Thankfully, it’s 2012, and this past decade’s reimagining of the 80s, along with its revival of post-punk and new wave, is reaching its inevitable end of intrigue. While it’s certainly relieving to consider at least a few years of something other than new wave interpretations, one must wonder where the conclusion of this trend will leave artists like Twin Shadow – moniker for Gary Lewis Jr.
References to the ’80s New Wave influences of George Lewis Jr.’s debut album as Twin Shadow, 2010’s Forget, often seemed like they were made apologetically by fans of the album. “Sure, it’s like all of those ’80s bands, but, seriously, it’s really good!” Lewis himself never seemed to have any uncertainty about the retro flourishes in his music, instead layering them boldly onto the flashy individuality that his idiosyncratic hair often announced at first glance. For a while there, these sorts of influences were a dime a dozen, and Lewis exploited them, turning them into something exciting, something his own.
An impressive debut is difficult to overcome. Many artists struggle to define themselves but improve gradually over times. Those are the lucky ones. How can the artists who arrive fully-formed hope to raise the bar past this particular feat? Confess, George Lewis Jr.’s second album as Twin Shadow, is a victim of raised expectations, of having crossed some creative Rubicon on his first pass.
George Lewis Jr. is a great storyteller. Since Twin Shadow’s debut album, Forget, in 2010, there has been much discussion regarding ’80s revivalism, reinterpretation of New Wave and the birth of chillwave. But throughout the debate, it was impossible for anyone to ignore that amongst Twin Shadow’s reference-heavy beats lies undeniably strong lyrical content, which allows Lewis to execute this newly created hybrid genre nearly flawlessly.From the moment “Five Seconds” was released as the first single, it was blatantly apparent that a new Twin Shadow had been conceived.
On “Slow,” from his rightfully praised 2010 debut as Twin Shadow, George Lewis Jr. sang over a gurgling brook of guitar delay, “I don’t wanna be, believe in love.” The closest stylistic and thematic successor here, “Five Seconds,” finds him still looking for a love he can believe in. “I don't believe in, you don’t believe in me,” he sings.
Artists find inspiration in the most unlikely of places. For Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr.; this came from a motorcycle. After having experienced a road accident, Lewis Jr. purchased a new bike and moved to LA to record his second full length, ‘Confess’. By taking a ride one day at 6AM, he ….
Transported, though it may seem, to a grand and lush dreamlike landscape is the tone set by Brooklyn daydream magician, George Lewis Jr. also known as the artist, Twin Shadow. In 2010, Twin Shadow released his debut album, Forget, and has not stopped gaining creative prowess among the indie pop crowd since. His new album, Confess was recorded in LA and was released on July 10th via 4AD records.
THE VERY BEST “MTMTMK” (Moshi Moshi/Cooperative Music) The joy of the Very Best’s “Warm Heart of Africa,” the 2009 collaboration by the Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and the production team Radioclit, was the way it turned a gimmick — African singer meets electronic music programmers and indie-rock — into a sleek affirmation of global technology that still sounded human. The Afro-Euro balance was far trickier than it sounded, and on the follow-up studio album, “MTMTMK,” the partnership is more complicated and less satisfying. During the past three years club beats have thumped their way into pop.
The second Twin Shadow LP delivers impressively high-octane pop with an icy heart. Hari Ashurst 2012 On the cover of Confess, George Lewis Jr aka Twin Shadow stands aloof in dim light, his leather jacket torn and rugged. He looks like the sort of guy you wouldn't want your daughter hanging around with – and if Confess is anything to go by then that gut feeling would be a smart one.
How kind of George W Lewis, AKA Twin Shadow, to provide us with a very public, and very honest, statement as to why you should avoid dating him at all costs. After all, with looks like his, you'd be forgiven for falling too easily for his charms. It's not because in this recent interview with Pitchfork he seems like a rather pumped up fellow smugly sure of his creative worth to you and I, mere listening mortals.