Emotionally Varied, Musically Cohesive Electronica
The cover of Twin Shadow’s —the stage name of Dominican-American, George Lewis Jr.—third album, Eclipse, shows the singer’s silhouette blackened by the shadows and from his arms extend the fringes of his jacket; but upon first glance, they seem like fireworks and that’s exactly what they are. This album is a firework.
While many of his musical contemporaries are content with utilizing the pulsating, base dropping motif of the house movement, musically this album takes its inspiration from the great synth groups of the eighties from the Eurythmics to The Human League. However, unlike fellow eighties synth pop devote, Betty Who, (who usually only uses cheery and fast-paced beats), the music is indicates his emotional state. That makes the album even more impactful.
The first song on the album, “Flatliners” uses a somber piano arrangement and a sparse drum accompaniment to express his romantic devotion, as he reveals that his “heart has a chamber of trust” for his lover. This only lasts for so long, however, as the song and its drums reach a crescendo on the chorus, as they fill out with rolls and cymbals, for the lover that is “making” and “breaking” promises. His voice has rasp and seems to be reaching out into the oblivion. He is convincing in his hurt.
In contrast, “Back to the Top” details a love that he won’t give up on. It starts with a three-part harmony that tells you that the song is going to be epic. The synths add contrast to the steady drums and piano chords, as they move in enchanting steps. All of this comes to a head in the chorus, where he swears, in harmony and over yells that he won’t “move until this stops / go back to the top.” This song makes you feel like you have to go confess your love to the person you used to stare at in math class, preferably at the senior prom, which has under the sea theme. It makes you feel like love can conquer all. It is at once cheesy and cool.
While the fourth track, “Alone” has a strikingly pretty duet with Lily Elise, it is the “I’m Ready” that truly stands out. It begins with screeching call and answer guitars and Lewis sing-talking breathlessly over them about being held back by embarrassing memories, as he sits looking out over Los Angeles. Then, all of a sudden, he gets a surge of courage and the synths kick in and his back up singers return his lonely call. It is magical.
One of the things that make modern music fans disillusioned with electronica is the lack of emotion that can sometimes accompany it. That is not the case here. It is an emotional roller coaster that managers to stay musically cohesive. It is a feat that eclipses all others.