By Russell Warfield
There’s a moment during the bridge to the pulsating and brilliant ‘Patience’ where you can actually hear the tightness of the guitarist’s jeans. So many artists – or, more accurately, the reviewers of so many artists – throw around words like ‘homage’, ‘throwback’ and, the worst offender, ‘nostalgia’ (guilty!) that it’s ironically refreshing when an artist like Twin Shadow comes along and wholly inhabits the era he’s invoking, never winking, not self-consciously mining the past, just completely channelling its treasures. With his middling debut Forget, Twin Shadow managed the former – echoing the eighties, but undoubtedly distilling the decade through the prism of present day bedroom-pop. Confess, on the other hand, is one polished motherfucker – cocked hips, shimmering snares, reverb on the kick. Just look at that cover art.
Shedding itself from any shackles to quasi lo-fi trends, Confess sees Twin Shadow emerge as a glistening, bona fide prince of pop music. These are some seriously huge Top Gun choruses on offer, and given up right off the starting blocks as an unambiguous statement of intent which only becomes more audacious as the record progresses, immersing itself deeper and deeper into its unabashed new wave stylings. Opening track ‘Golden Light’ sets the tone and lays out the formula: slinky, sultry verses which operate primarily as means of setting the mood, before suddenly cutting the lights and moving straight to third base for the chorus. You’d have to be inhumanly chaste not to be seduced by the unfurling synth lines and chorus hooks. Songs like ‘Five Seconds’ see Lewis move from rasping murmur to unrestrained bellow in one swoony chorus, while the retro-crunch of palm muted guitar in ‘You Call Me On’ with all its treat-em-mean affectations, tickles like the best foreplay. It’s an absolute mind fuck that Confess manages to make it till the final chorus of its final track before indulging itself in its first orgasm of key change.
It’s a sex obsessed beast, that’s for sure – and the slick production and throbbing music helps you keep your mind locked onto this interpretation of Confess. But for all it’s macho posturing, with lines like “I don’t give a damn about your dreams” and “you’re mine tonight, if you can’t go home” sounding like they’re delivered with the utmost heartlessness on first listen, repeated plays reveal its emotional ambiguity. Album highlight ‘I Don’t Care’ – with its rolling piano and rousing military rhythms – moves through the album’s most unrestrained revelling in ’80s balladry (just listen to that Bonnie Tyler middle eight), and uses the mode to deliver stunning lines like “before the night is through, I’ll have said three words. I’ll probably mean the first two, but regret the third” – a half-muttered sentiment which can be interpreted as either coldness or crippling damage; it being impossible to tell where bravado ends and vulnerability begins. But that’s probably exactly what this filthy smooth talker wants me to think. It’s this combination of immediate, aural gratification with potential emotional complexity which makes Confess so obsessively intoxicating, and so very, very sexy.