The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Reviews

Twin Shadow
Confess Luke Turner , July 12th, 2012 17:46

Add your comment »

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.

Dan B
Jul 12, 2012 10:08pm

I think that there's a playful element to the public persona of Twin Shadow that I don't think you give any credit to, and your projections into his psychosexual state are pretty mean-spirited and pathetic. That said, I can't muster up much of a defence of his music this time around - the last one had some decent songs on it like 'Slow' - this one is all on the surface and nothing's going on beneath it, like an icy puddle. Serious question though: what is better - this album or that revoicing that King Midas Sound did?

Reply to this Admin

Stavros P. Leibowitz
Jul 13, 2012 9:15am

In reply to Dan B:

You really are quite sensitive soul, aren't you? I've noticed that quite a few of the reviews here have upset you because they're supposedly mean spirited or vicious disses. But that's why I read The Quietus and the not the po-faced shit that say, Pitchfork churns out and any of those earnest twats who post reviews on YouTube. Maybe you should go there.

Reply to this Admin

Dan B
Jul 13, 2012 9:30am

In reply to Stavros P. Leibowitz:

Come on, let's not make the comments section about me again, even though I'm far better-looking and interesting. tQ can be as harsh as they want to, I'm not upset by it, I just think maybe the rage could be more accurately targeted (for instance: check the video for slow where TS mocks himself as hyper-serious camp sexual idol by inserting himself in a tentative gay porn homage. Could it be the dude is far more aware than this review gives him credit for? I think so). I agree that it's a shit record too. Judge finds me not guilty.

Reply to this Admin

Dr Up
Jul 13, 2012 10:06am

Really, really wanted to like Forget. It has all the ingredients which normally make me giggle like a schoolgirl - it's on 4AD, references The Human League and the reviews suggested it could be the soundtrack to a middling John Hughes film.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be unlistenable Sade-soul shite.

Reply to this Admin

David
Jul 13, 2012 11:47am

Can you tell us how many times this album was listened to in between the two Tweets sent last night that 1) said you had it on for the first time and 2) linked to this review? They were an hour an a half apart so I'm guessing twice maximum. Seems a very strong damning of a barely listened to record.

Reply to this Admin

Luke Turner
Jul 13, 2012 1:44pm

In reply to David:

You don't have to sniff a turd twice to know that it is indeed a turd.

Reply to this Admin

Luke Turner
Jul 13, 2012 1:57pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

...though I should point out I listened to it all four times, and went back to several track repeatedly. It wasn't fun.

Reply to this Admin

David
Jul 13, 2012 2:49pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

Fair enough. Personally I wasn't a fan on first listen (or even the fourth) but have found that both Twin Shadow albums get better with repeat listens. It feels like the severity of this review would be less intense if it wasn't already receiving good press/ hype; something out of control of the band and not actually a factor of the album itself either.

Reply to this Admin

Luke Turner
Jul 13, 2012 2:52pm

In reply to David:

No, trust me, it'd be just as severe.

Reply to this Admin

Kirkmann
Jul 17, 2012 1:06pm

In reply to Luke Turner:

Incredible. In my oppinion you cannot judge an album untill after at least ten hear-throughs. Only at that point can the complexities of the music come the the surface. The fact that you have heard the album that little before writing this review makes it invaluable to me, frankly.

Reply to this Admin

robin j
Jul 30, 2012 11:50am

met him he's a nice guy and makes great music intelligent but is incredibly vain and a bit of a dope head even for a musician , seems this is the difficult follow up and he's having to put some dodgy wordplay in there to fill it out . Pitchfork is an utter crock and its doesnt push the artists for opinions or challenge them. its an open advertising board for mates of the organisation to tout their wares even more so than print journals the spirit of lester bangs is nowhere to be found there . This is effectively a massive ego wank for him doing the album alone - needs the Grizzly Bear back to swipe him into shape

Reply to this Admin

Julissa E.
Sep 9, 2013 1:40am

I was hooked on Twin Shadow when Tyrant Destroyed was first introduced to me through a friend. I will agree to it took me a few listens to appriciate Confess, but I do now. I LOVE the innocence of this record.

Reply to this Admin