Jul 10, 2012 Web Exclusive
Call it puppy rock: that unexpected bevy of warm feelings that makes an otherwise glam musician pump out an album full of love songs. But for George Lewis, Jr. (aka the sole proprietor of Twin Shadow), romance has taken a sharp left turn, leaving him with 10 tracks of sheep-in-wolf's-clothing love(ish) songs. The herd of golden retrievers in his heart has long since vacated, the sky on his relationship is falling, and he'll be damned if he doesn't vamp through the emotional apocalypse in a stylish ensemble.
With the needle still stuck firmly in the 1980s, Confess is the stuff of synth dreams, anchored by Lewis' croon that manages to evoke both Peter Gabriel's hearty tenor and Morrissey's emotive phrasing. Confess is a broader, more aggressive effort than its predecessor, 2010's Forget, one that clears out the haunted cobwebs of Twin Shadow's debut in favor of unabashedly smooth refrains, all self-produced by Lewis. The collection is streamlined, but not minimal, and it boasts stylish anger that could soundtrack a thousand fashion collections. Lewis blows through highlight "Five Seconds" on the back of squealing guitars, a percussive backbeat, and barbed insults. "I don't believe in/you don't believe in me/so how could you/make me cry." (Umm...ouch.) The self-defense is given the half-hearted addendum, "I'm not trying to make you cry," delivered with the air of the sourest of grapes. Translation: it's not him; it's definitely you.
When he's not airing his abundant ennui, that is. In what could have easily become an exercise in shlocky balladry—if not for his superior command of Prince-like theatrics—Lewis' voice lingers over the sexual intrigue of "I Don't Care" and the emotional wounds of "When the Movie's Over." Most telling, though, is album closer "Be Mine Tonight," a moment when Lewis allows the cracks in his super-slick veneer to break through. In what is perhaps the most sincere statement in an album full of lines delivered with an air of sensationalism, Lewis pleads, "Just close the door and leave the ending open." Lewis' heart breaks like everyone else's—he just sounds better while coping with it. (www.twinshadow.net)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 8/10