Frontier Psychiatrist

Cool and Hot: A Review of Twin Shadow, Confess

Posted on: July 17, 2012

Twin Shadow, Confess

Twin Shadow, Confess

Twin Shadow’s 2010 debut Forget, slickly produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, was a dreamy melange of synth pop. The follow-up, Confess (now streaming on the Urban Outfitters website) is no sophomore slump, but rather an extension of the new take on New Wave that worked so well on Forget.

The first single “Five Seconds,” a jittery love song with shifting synths, insistent drum beat, and George Lewis Jr.’s cool but passionate vocal is one of the best songs of the year, a buoyant redux of Angelo Badalamenti’s music for Twin Peaks. Inspired by biker culture (Lewis crafted Confess after a motorcycle accident), the video clip is a violent and dark Warriors-like adventure story which continues its narrative in the clip for the electro track “Patient.”  Aligning with this imagery, Lewis’s album cover features him in a leather jacket, looking a bit cocky and a bit pensive.

Throughout Confess Lewis effectively mixes the cool and the hot.  The first strains of the opening track “Golden Light” is quiet and spare (Lewis is still obviously influenced by Prince) until it bursts into a shiny chorus of percussion and layered vocals. “You Call Me On” is a bit more rock, with its 80s guitar riffs and reverb-heavy vocal runs.  “Run My Heart” is a homage to The Police; its insistent lyric –“working on making it start again / but I’m not in love”– illustrates a motif of the album: the starts and stops and the dissatisfaction of romantic attachments and relationships.  “The One” is a mix of Morrissey and George Michael’s “Faith,” (that stuttering honky tonk guitar recalls Michael in his leather jacket and Levis) and features another one of Lewis’s lovely melodies.  One of my favorite tracks is “I Don’t Care” — a slow sway of cold, mechanical beats (like something out of Bjork’s oeuvre) and Lewis’s warm, sultry, and vulnerable lower register vocals.  The album winds down with gothic “When the Movie’s Over,” the pretty, power ballad “Be Mine Tonight” and a lush hidden track “Mirror in the Dark.”  In “Mirror,” Lewis sings “I’ve tried pleasure, I’ve tried pain / It’s always / I’ve tried holding you again / It’s always / Too much, you and me / We can learn to be still but / We will always be broken,” capturing the album’s unsatisfied and bittersweet portrait of love.

Jeffery Berg is a poet who lives in Manhattan. His prior Frontier Psychiatrist pieces include the Top 10 Poetry Books of 2011 and a review of the Drive soundtrack. He edits poetry for Clementine and Mary and writes about film, guilty pleasures, and various obsessions on jdbrecords.

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