Review Summary: Forget is an album that will last long in one's memory.
Places - be they cities, towns, bars, homes - often leave an indelible mark on the memories of those who inhabit them. A non-returnable nostalgic souvenir there to either beat or cheer yourself up with for the rest of your life. Unsurprisingly, given their profound effect upon one’s psyche, when an artist commits their being to record, these things tend to work their way in.
Twin Shadow’s origins are eclectic and numerous: the Dominican Republic, Florida, Boston, New York. Their diverse personalities all impress upon Forget
in one way or another, but none as much as the European capitals that George Lewis Jr. (the man behind Twin Shadow) visited frequently and which instil a continental sensibility throughout Forget
. But this album only really sounds like one city - Los Angeles, 2019, as depicted in Blade Runner
. Vangelis’ gloomy soundtrack for the dystopian city and Forget
share the same cold, mechanical heart, and a vision of the future set firmly within a 1980s mentality.
If much has been made of the locational influences on Twin Shadow’s sound, even more so has been made of its musical influences. The Smiths, The Cure, ABC, Depeche Mode – the list goes on. Name any new wave/romantic band of any worth that you can think of and you won’t be too far wrong. This opacity, however, doesn’t make Forget
any less mesmerising. The fact that it wears its influences on its sleeve is all part of its charm. The pleasure is to hear those old sounds referenced with sincerity and an inherent appreciation of their mechanics - and with a distinctiveness all of its own.
Opener ‘Tyrant Destroyed’ is a bold one, slower and colder than anything that follows, but the melancholia is encapsulating. Lewis laments: “As if it wasn’t enough just to hear you speak / they had to give you lips like that.” Album highlight ‘When We’re Dancing’ follows with an opening bass line as expressive as any of Lewis’ best lyrics. The temperature noticeably rises here, with lukewarm and hazy synth chords being the perfect backdrop for nostalgic lyrics littered with childhood references. Swelling guitar harmonies sweep in as the song crescendos, powerful but appropriated for a naïve and softer setting. The lamenting continues into the more immediate ‘I Can’t Wait’ where Lewis begins “I cannot wait for summer,” but something about the sparse orchestration makes the sentiment hard to believe.
The competency of the album’s automated rhythm section is emphasised by the strut of both ‘Shooting Holes at the Moon’ and ‘At My Heels’ but after this brief dance foray, an icy chill blows in. “Does your heart still beat?” Lewis asks over a bare beat and frosty electronic whirring on ‘Tether Beat’. He goes on to croon with the cold detached swagger of an on-song Morrissey on ‘Slow’, throwing out idioms that ebb and flow hypnotically with all the gravitas of the racist Millwall supporter himself.
It’s ironic that an album so concerned with reliving memories is entitled Forget
. The glorious Vangelisian finale, the title track, emphasises the interesting (but admittedly inconsequential) parallels between the album and Blade Runner
. Both acknowledge the hurt memories cause, and both seem to lament something that was, and is now lost. One thinks of Harrison Ford slumped over a piano with a glass of whiskey, trying to discern whether the memory of a unicorn in his head is a real or an artificial one. It’s unclear whether the protagonist really wants to remember these memories at all for the pain they may cause, and the same can be said for Twin Shadow. Perhaps the exercise here is one of unburdening and catharsis for the author, but as the binary shimmering of ‘Forget’ fades out, you needn’t worry if Lewis seeks to recall or forget at all, just be glad he included you in the process; it’s an experience not easily forgotten.
Written for www.nightbus.tumblr.com