In 2010 Twin Shadow, a k a George Lewis Jr., delivered a sultry dose of new wave entitled Forget: A synthly sincere album about daydreams, tender romance, and inevitable regret. The album’s evocative and precise use of drum machines, synths, and electric guitars were all earmarks of producer and Grizzly Bear Chris Taylor. Paired with vocal melodies that stretch candid, nostalgic memories slowly like emotional taffy, Forget was a cozy, haunting album that was familiar and comforting in its sadness without sounding contrived or overwrought.
Lewis said the 2012 self-produced follow-up Confess (4AD)was inspired by a return to riding his motorcycle after a long break due to an accident. An ideal reflected in his somber, leather-clad pose on the cover, part-Kim Wilde, part-Morrisey, the ‘80s aesthetic continues to permeate his music (the artist’s homepage also features a looping video of Lewis riding a motorcycle up a mountain–classic). The yearning and intimacy from the first release are still there too but are now dirtier, such as the “Eyes Wide Shut” meets “Mad Max” vibe of the song ”Five Seconds,” which is based on Lewis’ novel “Night Of The Silver Sun.” The song starts quickly like any good, lusty romance; it’s exciting and danceable, replete with the ‘80s guitar tone from Forget. With the line “Drop your head to meet mine, then look for a sign,” the song “Five Seconds” is the intoxicating rush of kissing someone new. However, “Five Second” relationships are an impulsive and disposable thing (just like a pop song), as thrilling as they are regrettable. “There’s no way to forget it all,” admits Lewis in an impassioned yell reminiscent of Cookie Mountain-era TV On The Radio.
Confess is a maturation of the adolescent nostalgia fetishized on Forget. Equal parts excitement and doubt, it’s Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross quixotically gazing at each other at the end of “The Graduate” thinking, “And now what?” Each song takes the emotional duality to a different place, filling lovers’ sleazy uncertainty with buzzing guitar strums and parade-drums. “Let me know you’re innocent, then tell me all the things you’ve done,” coos Lewis in “I Don’t Care,” a song about two people lying to each other as they dance together in descending loneliness. Continuing Lewis’ theme of unsure affinity, The Police-esque anthem “Run My Heart” is a moody story of a boy and a girl meeting in the dark and realizing “Like the ache of unused wings [...] This isn’t love.”
All of the strengths of the first album are still there–nuanced synth melodies, delicate lyrics, fastidious electric guitar, and a careful balance between intimate and upbeat–but where Forget is for the romantic dreamer obsessed with idyllic sentiment, Confess is for risk takers and scored lovers who’ve gone skinny dipping with a stranger or said, “I love you,” and didn’t mean it.
So far the album’s received a mix bag of reviews, including some major polarized feedback from Pitchfork and The Washington Post. It will be interesting to see how things further unfold among press outlets. Fans can stream the album in its entirety on the artist’s website here.