A Dublin date has been announced for new kid on the block and current Sweet Oblivion fave, Twin Shadow. If you haven’t heard of this young fellow (aka George Lewis Jr) then please run to this website and have a listen to his debut album, Forget, for free.
Being that I am a fan of quiffs, The Smiths, disco, teasing song lyrics that are on the right side of obtuse and videos that are deliberately grainy and just a little grimy, then, naturally, it so follows that I think Twin Shadow is rather wonderful.
There’s something about the spooky, slightly unhinged sound to the synths and the clack of the drum machine in the intro to my favourite track on the album, Castles in the Snow; it’s exhilarating – simply shiver-inducing.
‘ You’re my favourite daydream/ I’m your famous nightmare/ Everything I see looks like gold/ Everything I touch turns cold/ Castles in the Snow,’ opines GLJ (as he calls himself ), just before a Johnny Marr-esque riff comes in, and you realise could be listening to Morrissey if he was just an American disco fan who goes by the name of Steve.
But Twin Shadow isn’t some cheap Morrissey/Smiths – or Joy Division, Echo and the Bunnymen – knock-off: it’s just that for me, the comparison is so obvious and so welcome. It gives me a rush of teenage feelings, brings me back to those emo years (although sometimes I suspect they’re not truly over!) and also shows me how you can take your inspirations and create something blissfully new with it.
Forget has the sound of the city written all over it, evoking the excitement and menace that an urban landscape offers. You can tell GLJ is young enough to still feel like he’s a teenager but old enough to know that the adult years are going to subsume those heady days soon.
The album was produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, and released on his label Terrible Records. I wonder how much of an impact he had in taking this:
Maybe he had no impact at all, but I think the above is a perfect illustration of what happens when you take a shaky demo with great ideas and hone it into a killer song. In the former version, the timing is off; the backing vocals come in too soon; the pace is all over the place; it’s just not quite ‘there’. I’m pretty sure it’s a demo, but you can see how it is pulled together like a zip in the former video, with everything falling perfectly into place.
Of course, taking a track from its bare bones, then building it up and recording, mixing and mastering it are what you do before you release it – but this example, I think, shows how with a little tweaking and bringing out the best parts of a song, and making the vocals sharper, you can give it an edge it was previously lacking.
Twin Shadow’s videos may be made using other people’s videos (except in the case of Slow, which is influenced by old Calvin Klein ads I believe), but there is no lazy editing here:
It’s fitting that underground graffiti artists and badass teenage punks also feature in his videos – reminding us of that sense of teenage entitlement and railing against the establishment…
For me, Forget is one of the albums of the year, and one with an ironic title – because it will make you recall your teenage past, whether you want to or not.
What do you think of Twin Shadow?
Twin Shadow plays Crawdaddy on 19 February 2011 – tickets cost €14