Twin Shadow – Confess
I must “confess” that I was a big old sucker for Twin Shadow’s first album. One of those “I’m wired to like it” kind of things. George Lewis Jr.’s second album has some of the same slow-motion bittersweet nostalgia thing that made the first album so great, but it also comes alive with a new romantic swagger that previously was just implied by the music. His songs have lost none of their immaculate detail, though. “Golden Light” is immediately memorable for its big chorus, with Lewis at the peak of his Phil Collins/Peter Gabriel style of throaty, emotive vocals, but the verses are impeccably put together, too. First single “Five Seconds” has the same sort of “Boys of Summer” rush that Forget’s “Slow” had, but it’s no cheap retread — it sounds taken apart and put back together, as Lewis unleashes his pipes at unexpected moments, and the whole thing has such a wonderful hushed tension that it’s enthralling throughout. Confess shows Lewis can really go for it pop-wise while still engaging listeners with layered songs and well-considered production choices.
Holograms – Holograms
Really great, ferocious stuff from Sweden’s Holograms. “Monoliths” plays its goth cards early, with foreboding riffs and similarly indignant vocals that seem to call out some impending tragedy, which comes in the form of the song’s second two-thirds, a straight-ahead rush of focused guitar energy punctuated by belted vocals. “Chasing My Mind” meanwhile has an almost comically simple and upfront synth riff that the band then undermines with its weird yelp vocals and riffery — which comes out an improbably perfect concoction. Seems like this year’s Iceage. More European post-hardcore, please.