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Review: Twin Shadow, 'Eclipse'

Courtesy of the artist

In songs that go big and hit home, Twin Shadow sets his musical register to "epic" and only looks upward from there. As a default mode, it's intense and unrelenting, occasionally disorienting for its outsize sense of scale. But then little details — a delicate synth sound here, an incisive lyric there — bring Eclipse back to matters reliably close to the heart.

"We don't want to be flatliners — pump, pump, pump it up" goes a rallying cry in "Flatliners," the big opening gambit on Twin Shadow's third album. It's a goal that goes more than a little fulfilled, but the pumped-pumped-pumped-up state of it comes by way of heartbreak and pain, too, with chest-pounding anguish over the making and breaking of promises in a relationship that sounds none too easy. Morrissey is a frequent reference point for Twin Shadow — not so much for the sound as for the simple fact that everything in his songs tends to be freighted and really, really dramatic — and it's easy to understand why in a song so emotionally focused and acute.

"When The Lights Turn Out" goes even bigger, via a sound abounding with peals of U2-style guitar, strings that seem lifted from The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," and drums that sound as if they've been pummeled by Thor from the cataclysmic rock band Swans. "I stick around, though jealousy and ecstasy are slowly taking over me," Twin Shadow sings in a state of fitful introspection. "Turn Me Up" takes more of a slow-burn approach but emphasizes the burn all the same, and then fleeter, more club-ready odes like "Old Love New Love" — with brisk beats and guitars that would get into the wires of Daft Punk — make sure to save time for brooding in the midst of so much energy.

Much of Twin Shadow's sound skews toward the 1980s, so much so that certain songs could soundtrack the arcade scene from The Karate Kid. But then there are more contemporary referents: TV On The Radio, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, even Drake in his more incendiary and self-lacerating moods. It's an all-over, ahistorical mix enlisted tightly and assuredly enough to make Eclipse sound like nothing other than Twin Shadow casting impressions on the present.

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Andy Battaglia
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