Under the Twin Shadow moniker, George Lewis Jr, is the latest artist to hop off the Brooklyn hipster conveyor belt. Despite being a 4AD label mate of The National and having had his album produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, Lewis’ Twin Shadow certainly isn’t a mere clone of those bands. Instead, Lewis is his own man, and he clearly knows what makes a good rhythm.
Lewis’ debut album, Forget, is anchored, for the most part, by a drum and bass engine room that is incredibly robust and strong. This isn’t how the record starts off though. Tyrant Destroyed opens things up with a gradual build of buzzing bass and unsteady synths before it gives way to something leaning towards chamber pop. But this nice, ambient curtain raiser is a red herring.
When We’re Dancing follows the melancholy of the opening track with a deep bassline combined with a confident groove that makes the song sound quite big without even trying. Shooting Holes is another tune that starts with synth before it develops an incredibly funky rhythm section that drives the song onward. The staccato strings that weave their way through and other little subtleties and textures make this sound like some sort of lost cut from the ’70s.
Twin Shadow’s aim seems to be to channel a funky disco vibe through US indie-rock aesthetics, and this approach works best on Castles In The Snow. It has a beat that feels far more suited to a hip-hop slow jam, but in the overall context of the record it doesn’t feel as surprising and unexpected as it could have been. It’s also unlikely that you’ll hear any slow jam that features such pieces of lyrical wit as “You’re my favourite daydream/ I’m your favourite nightmare” alongside such gorgeously harmonious backing vocals.
Yellow Balloon has the feel of TV On The Radio – another American indie artist known for their meticulous use of rhythm – with electronics whirring and humming away in the background like cogs in a machine. Tether Beat has a similar vibe as Lewis asks: “Does your heart still beat?” The album ends with the title track, which rounds things off nicely with a measured tempo and utmost sincerity.
Forget is an album that will require repeated listens to grow on most listeners, but fans of the 4AD stable might just get it instantly. Lewis has made a striking debut that delights in the most surprising of ways. There’s also plenty of scope for him to progress onto better things in the future. He may be Twin Shadow by name but one can’t help but feel that he won’t be lurking in the shadows for too long.