The major-label debut is an art form that can range from huge departure to subtle budge to barely recognizable transition. There isn’t a right or a wrong way to do it, whether you are Nirvana or Danny Brown or The Decemberists. The one thing that is consistent across the board is that more ears will pay attention with the expanded resources of a label behind an album, and for Twin Shadow, the career possibilities become more apparent.
Mastermind George Lewis Jr. hasn’t been lacking for reasons for people to pay attention throughout his career thus far. Sonically, Twin Shadow has operated on its own wavelength, and as a Dominican-born, Florida-raised songwriter, Lewis has embraced that he looks, sounds and acts much differently than his indie-rock counterparts. Everything from the leather jacket and confident swagger of his stage show to Lewis’ ability to make the maximum appropriate for the indie world seemed to put the writing on the wall: Twin Shadow wasn’t long for 4AD and his indie contract. His Warner Brothers move seems like a new beginning.
And listeners won’t have to look beyond the opening track of his third LP, Eclipse, to notice things have changed. The rhythm and cadence of the vocals is more R&B than rock and roll, and the album as a whole feels no real responsibility for continuity of style. Instead, the consistency comes from attitude, from a willingness to combine influences as disparate as ‘80s new wave and modern alternative rock. Titles like “I’m Ready,” “To the Top” and “Turn Me Up” put into words what the songs say with their musical ambition.
When all the pieces of this effort fall in to place, the results are huge. “I’m Ready” is cinematic in its setup, zooming in on a boy in the L.A. hills looking down at all the lights below, until you are inside his head, with Lewis singing about being ready for both stardom and human connection. “Old Love/New Love” is maybe the most fun Twin Shadow song on any record, dance floor-ready and holding back little in terms of melody and sonic depth. And “To the Top” is definitively anthemic, a signature song from an artist who has repeatedly impressed with his ability to have another signature song waiting to be shared.
The resulting album comes across as a natural progression, with Lewis and his Twin Shadow project reaching big and not disappointing in their grasp. Even closer “Locked and Loaded” revisits the theme of “being ready,” to the point that the lyrical build-up and recurring idea potential doesn’t quite match what is actually happening on record, or in Twin Shadow’s career arc. As an album, Eclipse functions as more about achievement, about not just being ready, but following through on Twin Shadow’s preparation. The future, in a sense, is now.