It may well be no more than an act, a part played purely for the benefit of others, but George Lewis Jr., the artist better known as Twin Shadow, comes across as… well, a bit of a dick. Cool to the point of being cold and confident to the point of arrogance, the persona Lewis projects in his latest songs is summed up pretty well by the portrait that adorns the cover of his second album Confess: hair slicked back, wearing a leather jacket that makes him look like an unholy hybrid of James Dean in The Wild One and Tom Cruise in Top Gun, his expression is blank but his eyes twinkle with a mischievous malice, piercing the photographer with the kind of look a sexual predator like Michael Fassbender in Shame would use to bewitch his prey from across a crowded bar, already weighing up just how much fun he can have at their expense before leaving them used and humiliated. Here’s a guy who’d buy you a beer and then smile as he stole your girl from under your nose, and it’s this character that appears time and again in various messy situations throughout the course of Confess. It’s a major progression from the slightly awkward romantic that populated Lewis’ fantastic 2010 debut Forget, who couldn’t believe his luck when a chick dug his moves on the dancefloor and spouted beautifully understated come-ons like “as if it wasn’t enough just to hear you speak/ they had to give you lips like that.” Now, he doesn’t “give a damn about your dreams”, or even “believe in you”, and is only too keen to point out that “you don’t run (his) heart”. He “doesn’t care” about honesty, as long as you can lie convincingly, and when he admits to being the type to cry at the end of a film you can’t help but feel it’s just a line to impress a girl who wants a guy who’s in touch with his feelings. He’s definitely “not in love”; as he eloquently puts it during “Dance Me Round The Room”, “by the time the night is through I’ll have said those three words/ I might mean the first two but I’ll regret the third”. Musically as well as lyrically, Confess is a much harder record than its predecessor. Whereas much of Forget was built on soft focus synths that sat well within chillwave’s lo-fi aesthetic, everything here is bigger, bolder, more aggressive; the beats are sharper, the hooks more in-your-face (the jaw-droppingly good single “Five Seconds” – below – is basically one long series of thrilling climaxes), and most of these songs sound like the theme tune to some imaginary ’80s Brat Pack blockbuster. Listen to the two records back to back and you’d assume Lewis had scored a few times on the back of his new-found (sort of-) fame, got cocky and picked up some bad habits: it certainly sounds like your typical, over the top coke rock record. Surprisingly though – according to this interview – the opposite is true, which begs the question: who is the real George Lewis Jr.? Confess has its fair share of plus points, but it’s hampered slightly by the fact that its protagonist largely comes across as utterly unlovable; a few traces of the vulnerable, poetic soul of old, the Jekyll to Confess‘ Hyde – its twin shadow, if you will – would have been more than welcome. Still, with tunes this good we really shouldn’t complain: Lewis has made one of the strongest albums of the year, one that improves on a brilliant debut and singles him out as one of one of our brightest rising stars.
Confess is out now on 4AD