Friday, 13 July 2012

Twin Shadow - Confess

Two years after Twin Shadow’s debut ‘Forget’, George Lewis Jr is back with a second album of sophisticated New-wave and melancholy R&B, released on indie haven 4AD.

Relatively restrained opener ‘Golden Light’ doubles down on twinkling synth and downbeat piano, evoking neon lit streets as the singer looks back at a break-up and agonises over walking away. ‘You Call Me On’ begins with a scratchy, distorted guitar and a kind of industrial RnB backdrop before the vocalist shows up, pondering another partner who led him on. ‘Five Seconds’ goes for belting anthemics, sharing much of the same DNA as the synth-rock of Ladyhawke’s debut album. The vocal is strong but the lyrics and melody are less so, making it one of the least distinctive tracks on the album and a curious choice for lead single. Luckily four songs in the album really kicks into gear and doesn’t let up from then on. Said to be inspired by a motorcycle ride through Los Angeles, ‘Run My Heart’ perfectly captures the sense of freedom and exhilaration, like Bruce Springsteen if his leather jacket was studded with rhinestones rather than stained with petrol. Opening with a spooky Cure-like guitar line it’s helped by a full throttle chorus ‘This isn’t love / I’m just a boy / you’re just a girl’ that becomes more intense and vital with each repetition.

His leather-clad appearance in the artwork to ‘Confess’ may resemble George Michael but the second half of ‘Confess’ clearly owes more to the heady mix of God and Sex that made Prince such an explosive talent. In fact when the vocalist croons ‘I built a sanctuary for all your troubles and doubts’ on ‘Patient’ he’s closer to the Purple One’s lurid vision of psychedelic sky-scraping pop vision than Prince himself has been for years.

With a clear voice that suits both driving R&B and the Purple Rain-esque power ballads Lewis Jr is a powerful presence even if some of the tracks are rather too slick to provide genuine insight into his emotions. ‘I Don’t Care’ could be Brandon Flowers at his most louche whilst ‘The One’ opens on a vocal line strongly reminiscent of one of Morrissey’s solo tracks. Another standout, the lovelorn ‘Beg For the Night’ hangs around a shimmering U2-like guitar figure in the chorus but gives way to glossy New Wave synths in the verses and of course a squalling Prince-esque outro solo.

It’s rare that a record on 4AD shares more influences with Lady Gaga than Lush but ‘Confess’ demonstrates the revered labels knack for picking artists who can channel a whole range of influences into a cohesive and contemporary whole. A great night-time soundtrack.


Max Sefton

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