Twin Shadow’s album Confess is one of the best new records I’ve heard in months. Confess features eleven (including the hidden track) eminently danceable tunes steeped in the aesthetic of 80’s synth pop. Twin Shadow is the name under which the photogenic George Lewis Jr. has performed since 2006; on Confess he reveals himself to be a songwriter and producer of remarkable talent. If his voice reminds me of anyone in particular, it’s Babatunde Adebimpe of TV On The Radio, but there are echoes of the venerable Peter Gabriel and Sting here as well.
The debut track “Golden Light” begins with a lovely little synth line that quickly gives way to the chorus: “Some people say there’s a golden light you’re the golden light/ And if I chase after you it doesn’t mean that it’s true.” “Golden Light” is a good touchstone for the album in that it is sophisticated and complex without ever sounding pretentious. Although Lewis’ production employs analog-sounding synths and drum machines, there are bursts of guitar here and there (as on “Patient”) that complement things very well, much like in St. Vincent’s recent work. You can hear the influence of the Cure on songs like “The One” but I also hear traces of 80’s soft rock radio here- Richard Marx, anyone?
Although Confess is very much a dance record, the songwriting is so strong that these songs could be performed on an acoustic guitar by a campfire and remain intact. The hooks are big enough to catch whales. If you, like me, are a fan of New Wave as well as of Ariel Pink and Neon Indian, you’ll find a lot here for your listening pleasure. Mr. Lewis’ approach is more electronic than that of Mr. Pink, and more melancholy than the relatively upbeat Neon Indian, but he shares a certain aesthetic with them in that he steals from his influences generously and then melts them together in exactly the correct proportions so that the resulting musical alloys are stronger than their inputs. I’m planning on revisiting Mr. Lewis’ debut record but in the meantime I’m already looking forward to his next one. Don’t be fooled by Mr. Lewis’ detractors: to reach the future one always begins by pillaging the past.
If you hate the childish lyrics please remember: lyrics are for suckers. Usually. Be bop a lula, tutti frutti.