October 19, 2010

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Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: Forget is a pop record, through and through. I understand the need to put George Lewis Jr.’s debut record as Twin Shadow within a “cooler” frame of reference due to the company he keeps (producer-for-hire and Grizzly Bear multi-instrumentalist Chris Taylor handles the boards on this record, as well as releasing it on his own Terrible Records imprint), but the album is closer to Off the Wall than any New Order record. Even by today’s standards, Forget is closely hewn in the image of pop music; shuffling drum machines, vocals and lyrics broadly placed in front without being obscured by reverb and faux-poetic intellect. This is a record that conveys uncomplicated, unfiltered emotion, a record whose electronic instrumentation and solid grooves are akin to the sounds that are floating through the waves of FM radio as you are reading this. Pop music.

Only Forget is most reminiscent of pop music before the bulk of the genre became formulaic and prepackaged for the lowest-common-denominator. The attention to detail is apparent from the very moment the record starts, as “Tyrant Destroyed” seamlessly blends acoustic strings with squiggly electric guitars, synthesizers, and hyper-personal lyrics (“And when you were 15, I know what you said/’I’ll never let another black boy break my heart”).

Specificity serves the songs well, as Lewis sings, “You were driving with your eyes closed, 75/With your foot to the floor and your head to the sky,” giving “When We’re Dancing” its soaring emotional climax. The funky, stuttering bassline that bookends the song is the cherry on top, so relentlessly catchy that I didn’t even feel awkward using the word “funky” to describe a piece of music coming from Brooklyn’s indie-rock scene. Ironically enough, nostalgia permeates through every corner of Forget, whether it’s the disco-thump of “Shooting Holes at the Moon” or Lewis painting an intimate portrait of childhood on “Yellow Balloon”.

The latter-half of the record takes a much darker turn, with songs like “Tether Beat” and “Castles in the Snow” bringing to mind bands such as Depeche Mode, especially on the latter, where Lewis sings of being cursed: “Everything I touch turns cold.” By penultimate track “Slow,” Lewis is pleading with his lover, “Just let me know/How long will it be, before you let me go?” Before long, he’s wailing, “I don’t wanna be believing in love” over a cacophonous flurry of sound, all unraveling threads in the face of the pristine arrangements elsewhere on the record. The album ends with a wistful ballad split into two with low rumbling distorted guitar, with Lewis lamenting in the chorus, “They’ll give us something, they’ll give us so much to forget.” Of course, in the back of Lewis’ mind, he knows the art of forgetting is much easier said than done, hence why the enduring quality of Forget is his keen sense of recollection.

Download:
MP3: Twin Shadow-“Forget”

MP3: Twin Shadow-”Castles in the Snow”
MP3: Twin Shadow-”Savannah Howl”