Twin Shadow, Confess
When you’re as confident as George Lewis Jr., life must not present much of a challenge. After all, how difficult are things for Lewis when the desire to picture an “attractive male on the cover of [his] album” is fulfilled with a glamour shot of himself?
This confidence is not entirely undeserved, as 2010 marked the release of Forget, the debut album under Lewis’s stage name Twin Shadow. Produced by Chris Taylor, bassist for then “it” band Grizzly Bear, Forget was met with massive critical acclaim and thus proved to Lewis that he was more than just a pretty face. The supporting tour for Forget was filled with a flood of women, drugs, and booze. However, the inevitable crash soon followed, inspiring a more sober Lewis to create his sophomore album, Confess.
As with Forget, Confess is a hard throwback to the 1980s. Unlike current musical trends, Lewis doesn’t simply draw inspiration from the past, but plants himself firmly in the stone-washed, over-indulgent bravado of the ’80s. With the gratuitous use of synths as well as Lewis’s dominating vocals, where he both croons like Andy Bell and snarls like Billy Idol, Confess is an album documenting a much more emotionally sensitive Lewis than his self-serving interviews would suggest.
Take “Run My Heart,” a track representative of the overall concept on Confess. Its pulsing kick drum and the very Andy Summers-esque guitar riff create the perfect outlet for Lewis Jr. to openly struggle with his newfound vulnerability: “You don’t know my heart / So don’t you dare / You don’t know my heart / Don’t pretend to care.”
Paired with any other style or genre, Lewis’s lyrics would come off as slightly nauseating, even pathetic. Nonetheless, this musical context suits him well by accommodating his need to create love scorned ballads.
The emotion carries over a few minutes later into “Beg for the Night,” arguably the best track of Confess. Wonderfully crafted New Wave motifs envelope Lewis as he achingly yearns, “When this lost arts / Won’t hurt anymore / If you need me again / Let me know.” As a whole, Confess stays on point with languished vocals but avoids instrumental monotony. Whether it’s the dance-punk sound of lead single “Five Seconds” or the drum line backbone of “Patient,” Lewis created a followup album with enough character to match his own.
Despite all the obvious good found in Confess, however, it’s as unenjoyably difficult as it is great. Yes, it’s a wonderful touchstone for all who grew up watching John Hughes movies. Yes, Lewis has a gifted ear when it comes to weaving gorgeous melodies.
It’s as if he’s managed to translate some ulterior motive into music, leaving the listener feeling deceived. It’s obvious to concede that music connects to individuals differently; what might be disingenuous to some might be candid to others. After nearly a dozen play-throughs and near-universal praise, though, Confess still rings hollow.
(Feature photo by Tina Tyrell.)