ALBUM REVIEW: Twin Shadow – Forget




86 — [Rating Scale] (OFFICIAL SELECTION)

If you were to look up Twin Shadow, chances are you would find, instead of a description or information of any sort, a piece of creative writing. It sets a convoluted stage before describing Twin Shadow’s music as “suburban ghost dreams that sound like a slow motion shot of a cannon, singing about spirits, visions, and aural hallucinations.” To be honest, it’s not even that good of a piece. I hate when artists do that. It gives the impression of pretentiousness and unnecessary complications. Listening to Forget, however, is where it all makes sense. The complications give way to clarity, the veiled lyrics become inspired storytelling, the references to suburban lifestyle become glimpses into just that.

Twin Shadow is made up solely of George Lewis Jr. and if one had to classify his sound it would be somewhere on the soft rock/new wave spectrum. But it’s tough to say something like that about an album so rich in detail, sophistication and emotion. The influence of Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor is clear here as he assumes the role of producer. His penchant for making complex instrumentals fit together smoothly and unexpectedly is filtered through Twin Shadow’s creative and occasionally poppy sensibilities.

Those pop ideals are often obscured in this album, but it is clear that Lewis has a talent for writing catchy and fun tunes. The album couldn’t really be considered pop, but there are moments where the influence cannot be denied. The uplifting of strings to a major chord in “Tyrant Destroyed” is the first instance of this, and the glimpses keep coming, especially on almost every hook on the album. “Shooting Holes” is arguably the most immediate and accessible song here, and typifies the fun, feel-good aspect of Forget. It gives off the impression of a kind of new wave disco track from the 80’s, but definitely updated and still not lacking in texture and or interesting arrangements, its lazy bassline is offset by the quick, staccato bursts of strings.

There is more than one side to this album, though. “Tether Beat” is built from a deconstructed and destructive distorted horn line. It’s menacing and instantly thought provoking, one of those elements to a song that can bring up any of many emotions. It would be an attention-grabbing part in any album, but it’s topped in the very next song. The single horn line gives way to rumbling synths in “Castles in the Snow,” the true album standout. It takes that same style of powerful, catchy and morally ambiguous element of a song and building around it. “You’re my favorite daydream,” opens the chorus and it does not let go.

That relatable songwriting is present throughout the album, and in some cases in comes off as straight anthemic. The end of the album is, essentially, a pair of songs to belt out along with the music. “I don’t wanna believe, or be, in love” goes “Slow,” the lead single. Relatable, at least to me. I’m sure some of you feel the same. “Forget,” the album closer and namesake and seems to be Twin Shadow’s take on a rock ‘n’ roll anthem without sounding anything like traditional rock, losing the fast pace but keeping the guitar solo.

However, as great as the lines with universal appeal are, the clearly personal lines are what really characterize Forget as an album and lend the lines that could be applied to a broader audience an added punch. The clear influence of race on the record and, presumably, Lewis’ life, is a particularly striking example of this. “You said ‘I’ll never let another black boy break my heart’” comes at the beginning of album opener “Tyrant Destroyed” and is a line that subtly affects the rest of the album. The insecurities expressed throughout the album often resound back to that line. “If you hear your mother calling get away from me” could be referencing something else entirely, but the line in the chorus of “Yellow Balloon” keeps you guessing. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of the uncertain feelings associated with growing up black in the predominately white suburbs of America. It’s a bold, intensely personal inclusion into the album that makes the record as a whole that much more powerful.