Artist: Twin Shadow
Rarely if ever should you judge a book by its cover, or indeed, an album by its sleeve. However, an exception must be made for Confess. Adorning an open-chested leather jacket, with hair groped into a beatnik quiff and eyes set firmly in a furtive stare, Twin Shadow mastermind George Lewis Jr. looms large on the cover of this his sophomore effort under the Twin Shadow moniker. At once shamelessly retro and yet impossibly cool, this dusky image of forlorn sexuality is a joyously unfashionable distillation of Twin Shadow’s sound, a sound that is all about him.
Twin Shadow’s 2010 debut Forget was a woozily endearing slice of pitch-perfect 1980’s new-wave revivalism. Neat, minimal production from Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor provided a perfect environment for Lewis’ shimmering tracks. The album’s true strength was its craft, elevating it miles beyond mere pastiche. Pleasingly, Confess goes further still.
Punchier, more muscular and wholeheartedly embracing a more full-bodied sound, Confess attacks where its predecessor was content to acquiesce. Though the groove based rhythms on Forget were often sublime, Confess stands as a far more arresting, devil-may-care figure. This is clear from the get-go, as opener ‘Golden Light’ launches the record in a strikingly potent fashion. Lead single ‘5 Seconds’ is a front-running example of this new-found immediacy. Its video, a short slab of stylish melodrama, complete with motorcycle gangs and gratuitous violence, mirrors the ambition of the song itself and indeed acts as a fitting teaser for the rest of the album. Impatient drums and showy guitars play against each other as Lewis yelps insistently for “five seconds in your heart”. This energy is carried through to the closing notes on the albums final (and hidden) track.
There is a heartfelt core to this record that, married with its painstaking execution, sets Confess apart from its contemporaries. With the likes of the Chromatics and indeed the recent Drive soundtrack striking all the right notes as they wink and nod to the sound of the Eighties, Twin Shadow resonates for that bit longer. More than reviving a sound, or even living in the era of that sound, Confess has a certain emotional depth that transcends its environment.
In a Nutshell: Despite reviving the sound of the eighties, its execution and timeless human quality makes Confess relevant in the here and now.
by Robert Mac Carthy