FOR someone who was likely only in the first or second grade when the 1980s ended, George Lewis Jr. seems to have been powerfully affected by that decade’s sonic landscape.
Lewis, whose stage name is Twin Shadow, has embraced drum machines, synths and the wild earnestness of ’80s pop. It got away from him on his 2015 album “Eclipse,” an over-the-top, slow burning collection of pure bombast.
Twin Shadow has toned it down on his new fourth album, “Caer,” but it’s never far, lurking. The album, titled after the Spanish word for “to fall,” is always one flourish away from falling into disaster. It’s a mixed bag but one that clearly shows growth and a way out of the shadows.
“Brace,” featuring Rainsford, with its throwback spacy keyboard, is easily the album’s outstanding track, a perfect collision of the songwriter’s influences. It’s rooted in the ’80s but still sounds fresh, adding a guitar solo and name-checking Tom Petty.
“Saturdays,” with the ladies from Haim stopping by to add their positively sunny sound, feels like it could play during the end credits of a John Hughes movie. It’s a winner. But the flatulent “18 Years” ultimately fails, sounding like a cut that didn’t make the “Say Anything” soundtrack.
The tender “Little Woman” gets overwhelmed by production elements, a frequent issue that pops up on “Caer.” Many songs try too hard to be weighty and sound like they’ve been arranged for an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
The album’s cover image is unintentionally apt. It shows someone covering their face with their hands, as if acknowledging they’ve wasted a chance.
“I’m too mixed up,” Twin Shadow warns us on the album, and you believe him.
Even the spare and pretty interlude “Twins Theme” is marred by clumsy rain sounds. And why halfway through “Obvious People” does the song warp and the vocals sped up, resembling Chipmunks?
Twin Shadow is listed as the producer or co-producer — as well as a mixer — on every song on the album. It might be time for him to relinquish some control or he’s going to keep free falling like Tom Petty. (AP)