George Lewis Jr., aka Twin Shadow, recently said in an interview, "At this point, my life has nothing to do with being in a long-term relationship. I'm starting to question the importance of truly existing with someone, if it's really healthy at all." Those two sentences sum up his second full-length album, Confess, pretty well. Confess is an album full of love songs, but not in the traditional sense. Instead, Lewis Jr. is speaking about love on a heart-breakingly honest level and seeing it for what it sometimes is -- just a game.
On the lead track, "Golden Light," Lewis Jr. is hesitant to equate attraction to actual feeling, saying, "You're the golden light/And if I chase after you, doesn't mean that it's true." Theres a difference between infatuation and profound love, says "Golden Light." The cynical honesty continues through every song on the album, with Lewis Jr. in full-brooding mode. At times Lewis Jr. expresses emotional ambivalence (on "I Don't Care" and "When the Movie's Over"), while other times he is the victim. "Patient" is one of these times, and in turn may be one of the more passionate songs on the album. On "Patient," Lewis Jr. is the spurned lover, the one who's being shunned. His urgent anger is palpable, and all things considered, almost refreshing.
Perhaps Confess seems more shockingly upfront than it actually is because of Lewis Jr.'s delivery. Mostly working out of a low-rumble, brooding voice, it has a slight crackle to it that suggests frailty and that he actually may have reasons to be so cynical. The best parts though come when Lewis Jr. breaks out of that rumble, when his passion shows through, when he exclaims and confesses -- the choruses of "Run My Heart" and "The One," or when he cuts through the usual verse structure to scream, "There's no way to forget it all" on the single, "Five Seconds."
For an album that is so stark honest about and concerned with love, it's fitting that Twin Shadow draws on the forefathers of this kind of thinking -- The Smiths, The Police, Prince. Musically, Confess picks pieces of varying styles of 80s music to create a specific style; the electric guitars of The Police and hair metal, the monster-drum-machine percussion of Prince, the emotiveness of The Cure. Twin Shadow isn't ripping so much as he is riffing on these styles -- infusing genre qualities into his own sensibility.
Which is astonishingly immediate and fierce. For example, "Five Seconds" is four and a half minutes of pure adrenaline. It doesnt slow down for anyone or anything -- and most of the songs on Confess function like this. Hardly any of the songs are climactic because most of the songs are simply full-on climaxes. Because of the songs' urgent energy and Lewis Jr.'s candidness, Confess is an album that gets under your skin. These songs force their way inside of you.