Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Matt Oliver, Mastering by Sam Patlove
George Lewis Jr., the man behind Twin Shadow, looks as if he could have been a riding and drinking buddy with James Dean or found himself - should he have had the proper attire on him - running with Sammy Davis Jr., Old Blues Eyes and the Rat Pack, when the city of Las Vegas was just being built into the place where everyone wanted to flush their money, get laid and get hitched. He looks about as cool as they come - with that flap of Elvis-like, black hair and that sly mustache that lives to confound the picture. He has the veneer of a sleek, threadbare Renaissance Man who could surprise you at any moment with something clever or charming, totally unexpected. Or he could be a mechanic, a grease monkey, or a UPS deliveryman. He looks as if it were all possible, but looks only take you so far, and they often get you lost along the way. Even with the chin and the follicles, there needs to be much more to live with and behind and Lewis Jr. is definitely more than the hip-looking-dude du jour. It's incredible when the wave takes anyone who's just released a single album, takes them unsteadily up and off-center, gives them the penthouse. Sometimes there's a really good reason why it happens and at other times, we're better off not knowing what got the gears turning, for it would just make our stomachs turn. In the case of Twin Shadow, there's very good reason for it and it's one of the best hyperbolized acts of 2010. After spending much of the past year ignoring the chatter about Lewis Jr., despite seeing his face in every magazine I flipped through, when I finally sat down with the album, it was nothing as I'd imagined it was going to be. In my mind, I believed that it was going to be trying, a difficult listen that would prove to be good once or twice and then, literally, forgotten forever. It's an unfair assessment of something never heard, but it was the one held, so help me. The hype machine's success rate is chronically low, but with Twin Shadow, we hear the trappings of a studious listener, of a conscientious writer and of a man unafraid of letting his hooks shine, rather than get buried as is the habit these days. His songs can feel as large and life-affirming/changing as those of Win Butler, as well as they can be spectral and contemplative like a Department of Eagles number or visit to Sunday service, but in all, they are what happens when one sits down to write within the confines of the garden of good and evil. There are moments when the spirit feels lighter than air and there are many more moments when there's no telling how the spirit is even being allowed to feel. There's constriction and tentativeness in the people in Twin Shadow songs and they're all just letting the moon take them wherever it will. They are lost in the moonlight and they're wound down, only assertive when it comes to knowing what they don't want Lewis Jr. sings in "Slow," "I don't wanna believe or be/In love," making it feel like a plea. Later here, during the refrain of "I Can't Wait," he sings of not being able to wait for the summer, for June to make its way around, when "all the ghosts are quiet," presumably the ones from a cold winter's wait. He tends to make us feel that those ghosts will never quiet down and that the summer he's longing for is going to be just as oppressive, if not worse.