The setting is bleak, but not hopeless. It’s long past summer now. The girl is gone.
Forget, George Lewis Jr.’s debut LP under the name Twin Shadow, is more about remembering. The record is an homage to the past, dripping in melancholy and steeped in nostalgia, or, in other words, la douleur exquise, the gratifying pain of loving someone unattainable.
An ’80s aesthetic is palpable throughout the record. The urgent, purposefully dated mechanical backdrop makes the album comparable to a B-movie guilty pleasure — brimming with hyperbole and unsettlingly out of sync with reality. Sharp cymbal-heavy drums accompanied by even sharper keyboards are prevalent, and almost painfully bright in sound. There is an overblown element to Forget that lends the album a larger-than-life retro quality, in stark juxtaposition against Lewis’s beautifully listless, mournful laments.
The songs — though backed by upbeat synths — move with a deliberate slowness bordering on lethargy. The slowness is redolent of the hazy recollection of memories, pieced together gradually. Lewis parallels the album’s pace on the song “Slow,” in which he warbles: “I don’t want to, be, believe, in love.”
Forget brings to mind very specific, visceral images with the record’s strangely evocative lyrics and topics. A hot sticky night in August, years ago. Neon streetlights in a run-down town. Underage drinking and jean cut-offs. Things once distinctively illicit and exciting now faded over the course of time and addled memory, to Lewis’s detriment. In track “Castles in the Snow,” Lewis croons, “Here’s all I know / Your checkered room and your velvet bow / Your Elvis song in my ears / That moonlit voice that I hear.”
The unhurried nature of Lewis’s silken voice (at times uncannily reminiscent of ’80s icon Morrissey) drones on with what appears to be apathy at first listen, but in reality, is a thinly veiled despondency. On “I Can’t Wait,” Lewis waxes nostalgic on the halcyon days of summer: “I cannot wait for summer / I cannot wait for June / When all the ghosts are quiet / When everything is new.”
Produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor on Taylor’s label Terrible Records, it’s no surprise that the recording sounds remarkably filled out and warm. Taylor’s production brings a depth that contributes to the languid, atmospheric quality of the record.
There are no profound revelations to be found on Forget. The album brings nothing new. A future is never mentioned. Instead, there is unrelenting fixation on the past.