It’s sixth grade. Your elementary school is holding a roller skating party. While you attempt not to fall down, the weird kid in the Smiths shirt is skating his counterclockwise ovals without regard to social norms or what the DJ is playing. The glaring fluorescents dim and the slot on the instruction board that reads ‘SNOWBALL’ illuminates. The girls hurry to the north side of the rink while the boys flee to the south, ready to skate across to each other and hold hands around the floor. Yet, the weird kid is still skating eyes closed and hands behind his back, turning left and left and left again.
If this were happening in 2010, a dubbed Twin Shadow tape would be grinding away in Weird Kid’s Walkman at that depressing skating party. Twin Shadow’s recent release, Forget, would suit a morose pre-teen’s rebellion against happiness. George Lewis Jr. (a.k.a. Twin Shadow) provides a synth-heavy soundtrack to the depressing realization that we’ll never really fit in.
Many tout Forget as a second coming of Morrissey, downplaying the subtle David Bowie and Prince influences. Despite those lofty roots, the record would be more suited as background music for an upscale indie clothing store (the type where you can’t ever find anything that fits and the clerk looks like he just wants you to leave). The record has a retro-hip, New Wave influence but it lacks the intangible power of many of those records. The synth noodling and straightforward drum beats seem a little too bored with themselves at times, perhaps because none of these sounds are really as revolutionary as they were 30 years ago.
Songs tend to wander without noticeable hooks, with the except of the disjointed vocal line of “Slow”–the record’s best offering. Lewis finally seems to wake up when he bathes in the reverb-soaked line “I don’t wanna / believe / but be / in love / I don’t wanna / be / believe / in love”; an awakening that doesn’t occur until track 10.
There are moments within Forget where the sound is conducive to sing alongs, but Twin Shadows is unable to capture that feeling for long. “Castles in the Snow” is the best crafted song with a clear trajectory and a good melody to propel it, but the end is abrupt and out of place. Many of the songs end on these random moments without a summary or a last look to leave it hanging in the mind. It’s as if Lewis stopped the songs when he ran out of ideas. “At My Heels” is a prime example, working a fine party beat all the way up to the last second where the song simply stops.
Just like weird kids everywhere, Forget doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do. Things go well for a time but when you get to feeling sad about yourself and don’t care who is looking, you realize that something is missing. In the end, Forget, is missing the songwriting power to make it a great record. It spells out its fate in the first lines of the last song: “They’ll give us something / they’ll give us so much to forget.”