January 13, 2011

Aaron Frank has been playing frisbee golf all winter.

At the outset of every new year, I inevitably find an album that should’ve appeared on my previous year-end favorites list. I stupidly shrugged off Fever Ray as “too weird” in 2009, and eventually became a serious fan through her debut album and dynamic performance at Coachella in 2010. This year, it looks like Twin Shadow will be taking over that spot and his recent Daytrotter session does nothing but enforce that idea.

With as many great bands as Daytrotter manages to squeeze in for live sessions, it stands to reason that I probably won’t enjoy all of them, but what’s most interesting is how quickly your opinion of your favorite band or a band you’ve barely heard can change after listening to one of these sessions. I’d given Twin Shadow’s Forget a cursory listen before and found Chris Taylor’s production too glossy and the vocals a little over-the-top. Their Daytrotter session somehow managed to humanize the band for me though, in the sense that singer George Lewis’ passion for performance and  intricate songwriting rise to the surface.

Also on display are the band’s melodic and poppy choruses, which are an obvious draw to fans, but one that nevertheless brings me back to songs like “Shooting Holes” and “At Your Heels.” Going back to the album after the Daytrotter session, you really get a sense that Twin Shadow have a deep respect for songwriting and cohesive structure, two things that certainly will not only bring a band success but also longevity. While my colleague, Douglas Martin, was correct in declaring “Forget” an unabashed pop album, some of the guitar melodies and basslines are genuinely rooted in new wave and pure funk, which was likely a reason for my affection.

As is the case with many other bands, one of the reasons why I initially disliked Twin Shadow has become one of my favorite reasons for liking them. George Lewis’s over-the-top vocals seemed initially too much like Morrissey for me, but after repeated listening to “Slow,” it’s clear that Lewis isn’t just drawing out his vocals for dramatic effect, but also to bring the listener closer to the actual melody, something that makes Twin Shadow’s music feel that much more intimate.

Download:
Mp3: Twin Shadow-“Slow” (Daytrotter Session)”

MP3: Twin Shadow-“Castles in the Snow”

Download the rest at Daytrotter

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