Album Review: Twin Shadow - Eclipse

Album Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra

As soon as word came out earlier this year that George Lewis Jr. had signed with Warner Brothers, there was one thing that was clear: Twin Shadow was getting bigger. Not just in the commercial sense - rather, all of the massive 80s indulgences explored on past records were now going to have the ceiling removed entirely. And really, did anyone not see that coming? Listening back to the trajectory from Twin Shadow debut Forget to the self-produced western Prince vibes of Confess, a boundless pop canvas with plenty of 80s nods seems like the perfectly natural next step. Thankfully, with Eclipse, that's exactly what we get from George. Twin Shadow hits the big time this week, and the horizon has never been bigger. Eclipse is pop magic made for taking all your John Hughes moments to the very top.

If you (like me) are a big Twin Shadow nerd, the first thing you notice listening to Eclipse is the reintroduction. This album consciously breaks from the story that built directly between Forget and Confess. The narrative between the two records was so strong that the track listing on the back cover of Confess starts with track 12, following 11 found on Forget. On the first record, George was a lovable bastard, burying the past and all associated with it, forgetting the "Castles In The Snow" and proclaiming no need for love at all on the incredible "Slow". There is only interaction and utilization - any semblance of feeling is a waste of time. When he returned on Confess, character development happened. George got on a motorcycle and rode west, bringing the coldness of the past into contention on tracks like "Run My Heart", admitting his own fragility at the cost of maybe breaking. It's all wonderfully over the top stuff that you can find yourself lost in for days on end. But with Eclipse, George is choosing to forgo character development for a reboot. Twin Shadow 2.0 isn't a reinvention, though - it's more of a higher budget remake, and one that suits George Lewis Jr. well.

Even before the sign to WB, we felt plenty of change coming on for George over the course of the last year and a half. First, we got "Old Love/New Love", debuted on the soundtrack to Grand Theft Auto V back in November 2013. The track is a piano-driven house jam scolding old lovers and finding new ones in the same sentence. The over-dramatic, heart-on-the-verge tonality of the whole thing fit perfectly into the Twin Shadow narrative without a full album to play into the context. With sole 2014 offering "To The Top", Twin Shadow went full 80s karaoke with an inspiring Say Anything-moment call for reconciled love. It was on the grander scale of these tracks that Lewis leaned on heavily for his Bumbershoot set last year. Even "Run My Heart" turned into a half-time crowd singalong turned Sade cover to close things out. So by the time we got to hear "Turn Me Up", our speakers had been ready to blow for quite some time.

Eclipse's two new single offerings are "Turn Me Up" and "I'm Ready", both (even from just the title) read to explode with ambitious, beg-for-the-horizon type 80s mantras. Furthermore, they give the perfect introduction to the two pillars of Twin Shadow's WB debut. "I'm Ready" picks up where arena-ready Confess anthems like "Beg For The Night" and "Be Mine Tonight" left off. The scene Lewis paints is as clear as day - at least the hazy LA kind. A boy looks down at the city and takes in the promise of fulfillment, wherever it may lead him. It's the kind of inspiration that may have first put George on the road on Confess. It's an overwhelming positivity that feels boundless and weightless at the same time. On the other side of the spectrum lies "Turn Me Up". Here, the track is heavy on the bass, with guitars shimmering forward as an accent rather than a main instrument, and George's sultry vocals pushing a memorable R&B hook forward. Here, Lewis begs for reconciliation in grandiose fashion. It's between these two that Lewis operates on Eclipse both musically and lyrically. In this way, Lewis seems to pull the most memorable pieces of both Forget and Confess into his future to make the newest Twin Shadow experience one that you can't forget.

The hooks on Eclipse are pretty much all set to be live winners. With lyrics like "Here I am, locked and loaded", "Embrace then drift, relax and shift, you eclipse me", and "We don't want to be flatliners - pump, pump, pump it up", George is going to the freaking moon with these pop anthems. Sure, a bit of subtlety found in the sweet spots of his previous albums is lost in the process, but it's more like overflow sloshing out of a bucket already quite full. Not much is lacking in the way of passion or fire. While none of this really beckons on character development for the confessing biker heading into the sunset, but with this record, George is letting his character get his feet under him again before choosing to move forward again. With Eclipse, Twin Shadow is reintroduced as a pop god, and if you follow along, you are bound to have a couple new songs to break out at karaoke next time around.

Eclipse is out this week on Warner Brothers. Grab it at your local record store on CD or vinyl. Twin Shadow will tour in support of Eclipse this spring! Catch him at Neumos on April 23. Grab tickets here.

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