Twin Shadow Twin ShadowForget
Forgive the list of names that follows, but Twin Shadow deserved a nattier intro, but we are going through the second annual round of great launches, the lists are lying in wait, and we have to recapitulate for a moment. Let’s see. Revealing debuts of 2010? Tame Impala, Surfer Blood, Salem, Perfume Genius, Mountain Man, The Drums, Avi Buffalo. The sexiest albums of the year? Beach House, Caribou, Four Tet, LCD Soundsystem, Matthew Dear, Owen Pallett, The Radio Dept., Erykah Badu. Third question, the good one: albums that fit in both categories? Wild Nothing, Violens, Sleigh Bells, Janelle Monáe, How to Dress Well, Best Coast, Mount Kimbie and, especially, Twin Shadow. With the sex-appeal turned up high –don’t miss the video clip filmed for “Slow” which looks like a model casting, George Lewis Jr., 26 years old, offers a high-class debut in “Forget”, spotless and with an overwhelming sincerity when it comes to revisiting the 80’s hangover. “Forget” walks up to us in some vintage high heels, and carries the weight of that decade without being crushed by its own shoulder pads. It has nothing to do with the pastiche of Hurts, who I can’t help comparing it with: both of them drink from the same sources, but Twin Shadow imports the essence more than the specific tool.
Residing in Brooklyn, but of Latin ancestry, like glo-fi capo Alan Palomo ( Neon Indian), Lewis sings an intense ode to nostalgia. His excellence as a singer and songwriter manages to call to mind a song by Bryan Ferry, The Smiths , and New Order (the glorious “Slow”) and he does so in an unusual manner, taking them along a path similar to that of Wild Nothing. Besides singing to the desolation of the “I,” Lewis uses fairly frivolous electronic seams that may suddenly remind one of Depeche Mode and Tears For Fears. Sensually smooth, reversible, and lasting, the sound of “Forget” lends itself to being dissected even more. The name of Chris Taylor, a member of Grizzly Bear, catches the eye; he is in charge of polishing all of the material that Lewis recorded in his house playing almost all of the instruments himself. Here Taylor shows himself to be one of the pop producers of the moment, but he does so always remaining discreetly in the background (the opposite of what he does with The Morning Benders), behind a mix that sounds starched, even though it is always elastic. A new wave delicatessen, “Forget” incorporates dry gestures that make you think of 1979 Manchester into its idea of style: funky swamplands, disco basses, and strings with swag, all of it structured almost perfectly: gloomy in the beginning ( “Tyrant Destroyed”), overflowing at its peak moment ( “At my Heels”), and suggestive in the final section ( “Forget”).
Lewis titles the album sarcastically. Forget? Not at all, just the opposite. The key is in memory. The songs are written with a soft quill that harks back to the nights in white satin of twenty-five years ago, all dipped in a kinetic tenderness that gives the album an extra dose of affection. Things are promising right from the static “Tyrant Destroyed”, with phrases like “if it wasn’t enough just to hear you speak, they had to give you lips like that?” and throughout, the album maintains that finish that is so highly prized these days, that flavour of slightly-rancid Dial. Extracting the best from soft-rock –here vocal aspects and red-hot riffs rule, over and above synthetic additives, taking it out onto the dance floor; in “Forget” you sense an ambition different from that of other heirs of chill-wave, a destination that is different when it comes to catching a glimpse of where Lewis wants to go with his music. Unlike the bohemian air that so many hypnagogia producers like to put on ( “For Now” , the song that Thierry Matioszek is dying to write), Lewis assures that he created this project in order to make a living from it, understanding it as a well-oiled memory machine that will earn him money. He wants “Forget” to face off against so much mediocre music that is circulating on radios all over the world. And he can do it, because he has written a wonderful album.