Wednesday, December 12, 2012

48. Twin Shadow - Confess (4AD)

I don't know much about the man who writes Twin Shadow songs, but the man in them doesn't really seem like a good dude. In fact, he's a total dick most of the time. "I don't want to believe or be in love," was George Lewis Jr.'s climactic mission statement on "Slow", and the rest of Forget negated its new romantic sounds with accounts of people who chose to ignore his warning. There was the girl who promised to "never let another black boy break [her] heart" and became the subject of "Tyrant Destroyed", and then there was the partner in crime on "Shooting Holes", who took her father's gun and was sworn into secrecy. And as a message to the fellas, there was "I Can't Wait", where Lewis stole your girl from right under your armpit because she hated your moves, the implication being that she was going to love his.

This persona played a huge role in distinguishing Forget, despite much evidence of it being wholly of Brooklyn, ca. 2010: Pretty in Pink sonic nostalgia, a cosign from Grizzly Bear, smeared cover art. But in light of brash interviews and surprisingly torrid live shows, Lewis' careerist ambition, pretty boy swagger, and leering libido made clear he was not long for the world of back-patting, hand-holding indie rock. You might find the bad-boy posturing on Confess' cover too blatant in announcing Lewis' arrival as a self-identifying pop idol, but he refuses to apologize for anything here: not his brash lyrics, laser-focused songwriting, or glossy production. It's a purposefully arrogant star turn that would otherwise be insufferable if Confess didn't make it abundantly clear that Lewis is one of the few guys out there capable of living up to it.

He's adjusting his role models to fit the situation, staying within the 80s but moving from the Psychedelic Furs and Simple Minds. Instead, he's taking Purple Rain, Born in the U.S.A. and Lost Boys as guides. We're talking leather jackets, sullen glowers, salvation through hit-making. And Confess aspires to the excess of the Reagan years, when all genres were competing for the same MTV slots and the production on pop, rock, and R&B records was essentially the same. But while Confess is slick, it doesn't sound slavishly retro or expensive; in fact, there's a eerie, disembodied artificiality to many of these sounds.


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