Twin Shadow’s 'Confess' is even more rooted in the 80s than George Lewis Jnr’s stunning debut. However, rather than another set of tasteful new wave, he embraces the decade’s musical spirit warts and all, including some of its more cheesy elements.
The stop-gap single 'Changes' suggested a more optimistic and dance-oriented direction, as if the man behind Twin Shadow, George Lewis Jnr, was opening up the curtains to let in the light after the darker themes of 'Forget'. 'Confess' continues in this vein as it is a bright, vibrant record which finds him exhibiting his inner Prince, adopting the RnB style that defined the Purple One’s pomp.
'Patient' in particular highlights this new direction, as Lewis Jnr comes across as a dramatic lothario with lyrics like "I want to be adored/By your lips and your hands". Just when you are easing into the track, a brass section emerges from nowhere followed by an 80s guitar solo which Eddie Van Halen would be proud of. The whole thing teeters on the precipice between genius and naff, but it just about works.
The first single from the album, 'Five Seconds', is a standout. It’s an exciting, heady rush of a song and its urgency gives the song an ‘us against the world’ vibe, which is infectious. The drum solo in the middle the song is a sure sign this is an album built with arenas in mind as opposed to the bedroom soundscapes of his earlier work.
The Police is another influence, particularly on the nervy, reggae-injected rhythms of 'You Can Call Me On' and 'Run My Heart'. Like the music of the 80s, the glossy, slick production only serves to dehumanise the songs. It’s therefore testament to Lewis Jnr’ songwriting abilities that there is still an emotional immediacy to the album despite this.
'When The Movie’s Over' is lovely, especially as it showcases a vulnerability lacking elsewhere in the album when he sings "When the movie’s over/I’ll cry, I’ll cry". 'I Don’t Care', replete with piano twinkles, finds Lewis Jnr crooning "I don’t care as long as you dance me around the room while you lie to me" over a vocal melody similar to Bonnie Tyler 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart'. It’s utterly shameless in its ambition but the honesty of the lyrics save it from appearing insincere.
Perhaps my expectations were too great for 'Confess' and if I was listening to it as a debut record, I would think it was a brilliant pastiche of 80s excess. There is no doubt that 'Confess' is a more confident and accomplished album than its predecessor but it lacks much of the innocence and charm. Just like a John Hughes storyline, the awkward geek of 'Forget' has grown into the brash popular kid but I’m not sure whether I like what Twin Shadow has become.
'Confess' is out now through 4AD and available to purchase from amazon.co.uk.