To announce Confess’ leadoff single “Five Seconds,” Twin Shadow’s George Lewis, Jr. posted two motorcycle stories on his Tumblr. One described a brush with death, the other on rediscovering his love for riding years later. In the accident story, Lewis muses: “As the bike slipped from under us my head filled with words…I remember in that moment I wanted to say everything to him. How could I say everything in a split second? How could I bury my words in his heart?” It’s the central problem in communication—and by extension, a stumbling block in creating art. Even those with a knack for conveying their thoughts and feelings inevitably fall short of conveying exactly what’s in their heads. No art, craft or words can ever completely capture the nuances and depth of our emotions, but Confess finds Lewis trying his hardest to cram it all in.
In a bit of a departure from 2010’s fantastic but sort of dour Forget, Confess hurtles headlong into a world where even bad relationships glisten with life-affirming sheen. Lewis sounds as though he’s pouring every ounce of his being into these songs, each showing off his distinctive expansive, textured production—an always-welcome contrast to the endless Soundcloud-link parade of tinny synthpop. He has a covetable ability to arrange songs in ways that sound lush, but also leave enough negative space within phrases to keep everything from sounding muddy or overblown. The expertly-paced “You Call Me On” makes judicious use of these dramatic pauses, which come off like passionate exhalations in between drums and synths.
Keeping the music simultaneously lush and light is a good choice for songs that prominently feature people moving too fast and making weighty decisions that would seem reckless if they weren’t so endearingly passionate, like blindly following a lover out of the dark on “Golden Light” and making emotional all-in bets on “The One.” Confess might be open and unapologetic, but it’s not always blindly idealistic; the chorus for the excellent “Five Seconds” is a pretty succinct reminder that this kind of vulnerability isn’t always reciprocated: “Five seconds to your heart/ Straight to your heart/ I can’t get to your heart.”
Thematically, Confess reminds me a bit of Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run. Lewis may not expend as much lyrical effort situating the listener within a richly textured and detailed landscape, but Confess shares Born To Run’s hyperromanticism and half-foolish/half-inspiring tendency to see the epic in the everyday—and to be simultaneously charmed and exhausted by that mindset. Standout track “I Don’t Care” is an especially Boss-esque take on a zero-sum relationship: “You were sittin’ home on a Friday night/ I was ready to dance; you were lookin’ to fight/ So you whispered somethin’ softly in the telephone/ You were lookin’ to get it, ‘cause your daddy’s not home.” Both Born To Run and Confess are products of artists’ mid/late twenties, an age that bridges the gap between clobbering earnestness and beaten-down cynicism, the last time in your life you’re apt to view a fuck buddy scenario through a James Dean lens, to read a text message and hear an opera. It’s the insufferable and ubiquitous YOLO shifted to a wiser, more mature end—with so little life to live, being guarded or cynical seems like a waste. Confess wants you to talk too much! Hug someone too long! Stay too long, and tell your friends and lovers everything!
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