Review: Twin Shadow – Confess

A Google Images search for ‘George Lewis Jr leather jacket’ produces roughly 146000 results. The only surprising thing about this is that, in the vast majority of them, he doesn’t appear to have a toothpick between his incisors. Confess, the follow-up to Twin Shadow’s sparkling freshman effort, calls on virtually every 1980’s bad-boy cliché, producing an album that sounds like Judd Nelson’s Breakfast Club dressing-room playlist. Think smoking in stairwells, kissing people you shouldn’t, and hoping to God that you don’t fall off the back of your older brother’s uninsured motorbike. The output is glossy, well-structured, and generally superb – and should they remake Miami Vice anytime soon, will make an excellent starting point for the soundtrack coordinator.

2010’s Forget, a gentler, more mellow effort, used its unrestrained employment of synthesisers as a backdrop to getting married in a chapel in a valley. Whoever sang those words is demonstrably absent from Confess. It’s ‘absurd to cherish every kiss’, he reminds the listener in ‘Beg For The Night’, while ‘Five Seconds’ (which is almost laughably retro) isn’t ‘trying to make you cry.’  Confess‘ protagonist is presumably not the kind of young man you’d like your sister to keep company with, and someone where contact makes a broken heart a obligatory secondary by-product. Lewis’ voice is mellifluous and deeply sexy, and so too is his song-writing. This kind of smooth baritone necessitates songs with a strong foundation and an album with clear structure to prevent the LP from becoming a lustrous musical puddle. Here, furious guitar riffs and fuzzy synth beats really come into their own, providing well-calcified bones to his voice’s meat. 

The album has been dismissed by some as being derivative. If anything, this is to be celebrated. Confess is fast and loose and disreputable. It doesn’t do anything new, but what it does is excellent, and plays into a current taste for synth-heavy power pop, as in M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Twin Shadow has made intelligent and sensitive choices that showcase some of the best features of the genre in a glorious way, making for an album that should endure long beyond the end of the fad. Confess is ‘bad’, and good, and perhaps even so bad that it’s good. Well worth your time.

FOUR STARS