Twin Shadow – Confess (album) (4AD / Beggars Group)

Twin Shadow is the stage name of Dominican Republic born, Florida raised, and now Brooklyn based George Lewis Jr.

‘Confess’ follows 2010’s highly rated ‘Forget’ and consists of 10 tracks about love and heartbreak set to a nostalgic soundtrack of 80’s pop. The album is characterized by up-tempo pop songwriting, vintage keyboards, warm synthesizers, atmospheric production, electronic drums, big vocal hooks,  80’s guitar work, and dark undertones.

If not for the fact that this album was released on the 4AD label there would be no question that this is an out-and-out pop record. The album’s atmospherics (courtesy of the layers of warm synth sounds) are really the only trait that resembles the 4AD discography of old. There is nothing “indie cool” about this album but this is definitely one hell of a guilty pleasure.

The most obvious comparisons are Peter Gabriel,  Go West, and Corey Hart (think ‘Sunglasses At Night’) with accents of Sting, The Psychedelic Furs, and Bruce Springsteen.

Take a listen to opening track “Golden Light”, an 80’s synth-lead pop song with one of the catchiest choruses you’re likely to hear this year. Despite its danceable beats and “fun” 80’s sounds, “Golden Light” exudes a certain sadness.

“You Call Me On” follows next and features a big fractured beat and R&B flavours throughout the verses. Combined with a quintessentially 80’s chorus, it doesn’t take much to imagine “You Call Me On” playing during the end credits of a film like say, ‘Romancing The Stone’.

With its Cold Cave-like sweeping synth sounds during the opening section and choruses, “Five Seconds” has a lingering darkness. However darkness aside, “Five Seconds” is a top notch pop song that would have easily received high rotation on every FM radio station twenty years ago. Check out the guitar riffing from 0:45 – a lost but stylistically brilliant 80’s technique!

There’s no more better and hook-ier song on the album than “Run My Heart”; a perfectly written pop gem reminiscent of Cory Hart with hints of Bruce Springsteen throughout the verses and Peter Gabriel in the chorus.

During the first couple of minutes of “I Don’t Care” a piano is introduced and brings with it a Springsteen-like angst. The mood, arrangement and melodies of this track really leap and it’s not until a bed of atmospheric synths are introduced that it fits in with the template found on ‘Confess’.

“When The Movie’s Over”, “Beg For The Night” and album closer “Be Mine Tonight”  are all close contenders for best song each with a chorus to die for and each featuring their own novel nod to the 80’s. Just take a listen to the Go West-like chorus in “Beg For The Night” from 1:05.

Despite its novel 80’s sounds, ‘Confess’ isn’t gimmicky or cheesy; the songwriting is top class but equally as important is that fact that there is a real sincerity and depth to Twin Shadow. ‘Confess’ is another definite 2012 favourite.

‘Confess’ was released on 10 July, 2012. Watch the video for ‘Five Seconds’ below: