Twin Shadow – Confess (4AD Recordings)
July 8, 2012 by Tshepo Mokoena
We should get one thing clear from the start: George Lewis Jr is a bit of a hopeless romantic, and unashamedly so on this record. The Brooklyn-based singer and songwriter fronting Twin Shadow pours out just about every love-related line (and unfortunately most clichés too) that could physically squeeze into 45 minutes of play on this sophomore full-length. The results have their shining moments but are overall a step too far into the kind of unimaginative territory no-one would have expected to find themselves lost in, following on from the brilliance of 2010′s Forget.
It quickly becomes clear that ‘Five Seconds’ is a swift front-runner on this nostalgic and lovesick collection of songs. From the bombastic drum machine samples to the soaring vocal hook and stilted, harsh percussive elements, it’s easy to understand why Lewis Jr et al chose this song as a lead single. While opener ‘Golden Light’ hypnotises with an earwig of a refrain and folds luscious rhythmic layers over pulsing synths, the lyrical content on tracks like ‘Run My Heart’ (“You don’t run my heart so don’t you dare / you don’t run my heart so don’t pretend you care”, and other poetic gems) and the ever-so-slightly insipid ‘When The Movie’s Over’ leave a fair amount to be desired.
In essence, Twin Shadow have a message on love, heartbreak and to-and-fro heartstring tugging that they’re desperate to convey but just seem to lack the vocabulary to do so on Confess. Gone are the dark and glowering moments that strengthened Forget (‘Tether Beat’ and ‘Castles In The Snow’ for starters) and in their place sit over-produced throwback jams which come off sounding more gimmicky than sincere. At the end of the day, Lewis Jr can still pen one hell of a hook, and there are moments where tracks like ‘You Call Me On’ (channelling Prince and a refreshing starkness) and ‘Be Mine Tonight’ (minus the unnecessary key modulation) remind us of his pop songwriting abilities – sadly, those moments come too few and far between.
Unfortunately, there seem to be too many concepts competing for aural supremacy here: from stadium rock and synth pop to broody balladry, the string holding it all together can’t bear the weight of so many stodgy ideas. Undoubtedly the band still pull together a blinder of a live show, but material coming from this album can’t quite hit the mark on the record. At least we can still power-dance to ‘Five Seconds’.