To say that everything that producer and Grizzly Bear bassist Chris Taylor touches turns to gold would be a misstatement. It’s more like everything he touches turns into a hazy rainbow of indie genius. This is apparent on one of his record label’s latest releases, Twin Shadow’s Forget.
Twin Shadow is George Wilson, Jr., a gifted singer with a strange past and a penchant for constructing nostalgic, very danceable songs that some classify as chillwave. References to ‘80s new wave are easy to make while listening to his debut album, Forget, and Wilson is clearly a product of the modern indie scene. But that does not obscure how good this album is from start to finish.
Each song is infused with a mixture of synthesizers, shimmering guitars, drum machine beats, and catchy bass lines that are layered together to a precise, almost mathematical perfection. Chris Taylor stretches out the tunes, giving them depth and detailed flourishes that invite repeated listening. Every verse flows effortlessly into its chorus, and each song flows into the next. In this way, Forget achieves a feat that is rare these days: its can be listened to from beginning to end, and yet its songs are also effective individually. Lewis does borrow some sounds from the likes of Beach House and Grizzly Bear, from the drenched keyboards that threaten to fall out of tune on “When We’re Dancing” to the trippy picked guitar on the title track. But overall, Lewis has already found his own unique sound that usually takes some bands several records to find.
He does not falter as a lyricist either, even though, ironically enough, at times he sounds uncannily like Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste. He draws on his aforementioned past to create poetic and at times romantic narratives that are not boring or overly abstract. In the funky “At My Heels,” he croons “I can’t come up with any reason why/A ghost is following me.” At times, there is a lot of the standard talk about heartbreak and former lovers, but it matches the ‘80’s dance pace and style, and most of the time the music is so good that we don’t care what he is saying.
But for all of the serious, meticulous song writing that went into this album, there is a certain simple playfulness about it. Lewis has a mature sense of melody, and he knows how to loosen up and let a hook dominate a song. He is committed to making accessible songs that beckon all types of listeners to the dance floor. Album highlight “I Can’t Wait” is flat out fun, and its chorus sounds a bit like Don Henley’s classic “The Boys of Summer.” During the catchy chorus he sings, “I cannot wait for summer/I cannot wait for June.” Don’t we all feel this way? If there is one thing that indie music could use a little more of today is the universality of modern pop music. Twin Shadow proves that, prior to common belief, this can go hand in hand with complex, intelligent song writing.