twin shadow

2012 Album of the Year, Part One: The Long-List

So it's that time of year again - Christmas is done and the excess food has started to fester. Gifts have been exchanged and everyone is now thinking about going back to work. Happy happy joy joy. 

To see you through this dark week I'll be posting my picks for 2012's best album, but before we get to the top ten I wanted to call out some of the albums that were very close to making this list but were pushed out.

I've also put together a Spotify playlist that includes tracks from every album on the long-list and the top ten (provided they are available on Spotify in the UK) and a good deal of other tracks that weren't necessarily from great albums but were notable all the same. You can check that out and subscribe to it here.

And without further ado, the 2012 long-list - note the top ten are not on this list and that this list is not in any order. Links on the title / artist go to the review (where one exists), Amazon links are to and are affiliate links:

Come back tomorrow for the first half of the top ten: 10-6!

Album Review: Confess - Twin Shadow

Image source: Metrojolt

If Twin Shadow's debut album Forget was a collection of brilliant synth-laden hook heavy R&B new wave then new album Confess successfully takes every single element up a notch.

I was definitely a fan of Forget but had nowhere near the affection for it that I've already developed for Confess in just a couple of weeks. Where Forget benefited from Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear's hazy production, Twin Shadow's real world personality George Lewis Jr. takes the reigns here. He never feels anything less than in complete control. Confess is a tight album of eighties new wave bass and Lewis' impassioned vocals that punch through the wall between the record and the listener - it's hard not to feel everything he bellows down the microphone.

Interestingly this album actually feels a little less focused, with greater variety than the last. There's a gruff rawness in 'Run My Heart', for example - it's like someone took Springsteen and injected it into a Flock of Seagulls record, and you can even actually imagine the lyrics coming from either artist, yet the staggered drum beats and swirling atmospherics make it Twin Shadow's record through and through.

And the only criticism you could make of Twin Shadow is that at moments you can pin the inspiration perhaps a little too clearly at time - the verse of 'The One' sounds so like Morrissey that the use of the electronics is the only thing that gives away that it can't be him. The hooks on this record are so strong though, and the influences so broad, the overall record so bright that nothing feels derivative.

When the pieces come together Confess is a genre agnostic celebration of emotion and dance. Listen to the guitar solo crash in over the throbbing live bass and massive orchestral synths on 'Beg For The Night' and try not to turn up the volume. The climatic closer 'Be Mine Tonight' borrows a touch of the bass sound from Berlin's 'Take My Breath Away' and gives it to a beautiful curtain closing ballad. It's such an utterly irresistible ballad that it even throws in a key change that makes Lewis' optimistically needy vocal hard to resist.

Just like this record, then.

Confess is out now, available from on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].

Stream Confess below on Spotify [account required]: