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Twin Shadow - Forget

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Artist: Twin Shadow

Album: Forget

Label: 4AD

Review date: Dec. 7, 2010

Twin Shadow’s first album is called Forget, but it’s really about remembering. George Lewis, Jr., the man behind this one-person project, has led a peripatetic life, beginning in a Dominican community in West Florida, and winding through the European capitals of Copenhagen and Berlin and ending, finally, in New York City. It’s the kind of existence that necessarily involves letting people, places and experiences slip away, preserving them only in snatches of memory. So, in Forget, Lewis seems to be taking out these salvaged bits of the past, examining them carefully, and, finally, viewing them through a lens of that he’s acquired in the years since.

As a result, while opening track “Tyrant Destroyed” revisits a girl Lewis last saw as a teenager (“When you were 15, I know what you said / I’ll never let another black boy break my heart”), and “Yellow Balloon,” later on, reaches back even further to a time of secret handshakes and mothers calling their children home to dinner, they do so through a lush, sensual, yet oddly removed scrim. “I am trying to remember all the things I have known,” sings Lewis in “When We Were Dancing,” yet the images flow with a sleek, imagistic, movie reel detachment. He may be dancing with ghosts, but not exactly cheek to cheek.

Lewis recorded all the sounds on Forget himself, laying disco synths on funk guitars, smooth soul singing on chilly programmed drum beats. Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear helped him with the mixing process, the only outsider, it seems, to have any impact at all on this home-made recording. The songs sound nothing like Grizzly Bear, yet I think you can sense Taylor’s hand in the way that layered sounds share space in the mix. The sharpness of the guitar, the twitch of synthesized strings come together in a fairly seamless way on “Shooting Holes at the Moon,” but without any sort of blurring or bleeding over.

Forget is strong all the way through, but it really picks up in the second half, starting with the cold-wave romantic “Tether Beat,” where Lewis works the interstices of late, baroque disco, indie bedroom pop and Cure-ish synthery. The song has a vulnerability in its Morrissey murmurs and staccato high hat beat that blossoms into something nearly symphonic at the chorus. There’s a bridge here, and in the tracks that follow (especially “Castles in the Snow”), between introspection and a larger, more hedonistic kind of music.

The problem with most glo-wave is that the very personal wants to be whispered rather than danced, that it’s difficult to transform the songs you think of in your bedroom into communal, body-moving anthems. Twin Shadow has an unusual ability to blow out bits of ordinary experience into large-scale synth pop, injecting hedonism without losing the difficulty and doubt. Forget is sleek, glossy and almost intimidatingly chic, but also quite moving. Nicely done.

By Jennifer Kelly

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