, July 12th, 2012 17:46
How kind of George W Lewis, AKA Twin Shadow, to provide us with a very public, and very honest, statement as to why you should avoid dating him at all costs. After all, with looks like his, you'd be forgiven for falling too easily for his charms. It's not because in this recent interview with Pitchfork he seems like a rather pumped up fellow smugly sure of his creative worth to you and I, mere listening mortals. Neither is it that his promotional photographs suggest one of those men whose self regard stems from a daily morning routine of press-ups, followed by wanking at themselves in the mirror. Ah, nothing like a splatter of cum over flexed biceps in the morning... Neither is it even that in the aforementioned interview he appears to think that progress in relationships between the sexes and the furthering of the sexual revolution is now seen in the ability to pay for girls to take their clothes off via a webcam.
It's more that, on his new, wildly and bizarrely feted album Confess his tired, joyless music and moribund, hackneyed and hankey lyricism suggests a man whose concept of romanticism would go nicely with a Nairn cracker and dab of quince jelly. Such is the overwhelming air of the slightly naff that pervades this, Lewis' second record, that should you end up back at his Brooklyn apartment, you'd be afraid he'd put on some Luther Vandross as he wafted the poppers under your nose. Self-absorbed (it's all "I'll cry", "my heart", "you're mine tonight") and self-important, Twin Shadow cannily proves that myopic emo isn't just about bonkers angular hair and squealing, but is a state of mind.
Musically, Confess is a muddle of various bits of soul, synth, stadium, and sitting-on-a-stool-pop of about the past 30 years but (and this perhaps explains why this record is feted) given a bit of a tumble is some more contemporary, self-consciously 'cooler' beats and sonics. 'Five Seconds' starts off with cold wave synths that would have been considered embarrassing by the worst of the Belgians in 1983... but then blasts out guitar riffs and a chorus like a track rejected from the Top Gun soundtrack. Goths don't beach volleyball, babes. (Whiffs of Tom Cruise turns up later in 'Be Mine Tonight's hint of 'Take My Breath Away')
He's not exactly got a lot of words in the bank, either. 'Five Seconds' final line of "five seconds of my heart" is immediately followed in 'Run My Heart' with the opening gambit "you don't know [perhaps 'own', it doesn't matter] my heart", sung, it must be said, in a very Sting-esque manner. (Indeed, throughout Confess one can't help but suspect that Twin Shadow is nothing more than Gotye in an 'authentic boutique-acquired $400 leather jacket')
'Patient' and 'Beg For The Night' are adorned with utterly superfluous electric guitar splatters. You can feel a little Prince, in there, desperate to get out, but failing, trapped forever in this monstrous ego. I bet Lewis likes to listen to this during his morning routine. 'You Call Me On' is possibly an attempt at a cunning play on 'Turn Me On', but you never really find out. On 'I Don't Care' the drums have a sputtering, inconsequential feel, a embarrassing misfiring engine on Prom night.
'The One' attempts the Cure 'Lovecats' / George Michael 'Faith' rhythmic trick, but again has to go and get itself involved with a self-important chorus. Quite how people have managed to develop some kind of emotional engagement with this record when it wearily deploys every romantic cliche going is quite beyond me: "cherish every kiss", "I want to be near you", "I have to be with you". These lines have been written a thousand times before, and do not need to be written again. Then there's 'When The Movie's Over' (which starts off so desperate to be Pet Shop Boys it's practically faked a British passport): "I'll cry, I'll cry, when the movie's over" he warbles, apropos of what he's just watched. I mean, the end of The Sound Of Music always gets me going, my dad lets the buckets go in Shrek, but what exactly is Lewis revealing aside from using YET ANOTHER weary cliche of rompop?
Twin Shadow implies split personality, duplicity, an exploration of the dark strangeness of love. No such mystery in this deeply unerotic, unsexual record, sung by a Ken Doll pin-up for the Instagram generation. On the sleeve of the record, Lewis' pout goes wrong, and makes it look as if he's trying not to wet his doubtless expensive trousers.
Alright, so pop music is going through a rum period at the moment. I for one am battening down my hatches and waiting for the storm of Eurobeat and Autotune to pass, rather than dishonestly pretending I embrace poptimism in 2012. Frank Ocean's new one is certainly a glimmer of hope on the horizon, but in the interim, I don't need this empty, vacuous, alternative pap music. In Confess actually reveals nothing, aside from itself as a great big wet lettuce. Pfffffft.