If you’re on the fence about this recent New Wave revival, Twin Shadow’s sophomore effort, Confess might commit you back to the decade of excess. But before cynics start barking " been there, done that" and the black rimmed frames start to fly, let’s state for the record that there’s no question where Twin Shadow’s musical influences lie ( read: New Order,… even a bit of ABC at some points). But unlike other bands who seem content with a kitschy superficial synthed- rendition of their neon past, George Lewis and crew are doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well ( Ok, so that’s a 90s reference but you get the point).
Confess picks up where Twin Shadow’s debut album Forget left off, providing profoundly catchy songs that distinguish him from his contemporaries, while singing with the poetic grace of Robert Smith (swoon). Opening tune, "Golden Light", is a thematic bit of Lost Boys soundtrack and sets the tone for Lewis’ worldly approach to his own brand of sophistipop. And with its aggressive beats, songs like "Five Seconds" and "Run My Heart" will have you busting out your vintage vial recreational necklace and Molly Ringwald dance moves.
But while "Five Seconds" and others display a more straightforward rhythmic approach only hinted at in his previous work. "The One" and "Patient" revisit the atmospheric and romantic Lewis we discovered on Forget where self-discovery themes and love lessons were still being learned as Lewis repeats "So I’m putting all my love/on the one/the one that’s always there."
Allowing himself to be vulnerable is one of Lewis’ most endearing qualities, so it’s no surprise to see him cross over to the softer side. "When The Movie’s Over" does more than just stick a toe in the water of the New Romantic sound recalling Avalon era Roxy Music, all melodramatic croon and glossy keyboard flourishes.
Confess avoids the ever-dreaded sophomore slump, but there are moments where it falters. Towards the end, the compositions fail to distinguish themselves as unique songs, with "Be Mine Tonight" being the biggest offender. Then there are brief moments where songs seem to be hiding behind style rather than substance. And this is where one must (sigh) ask the most important question about Twin Shadow… is what they’re doing sustainable? Lewis sports mad skills but does Twin Shadow have enough of its own "thing" to continue to produce meaningful music? And this is the pitfall and the ever-looming question with any band that relies too heavily on the past. Fortunately for us, Twin Shadow sounds pretty damn good today.