Moustache heartache

It’s hard not to stare at George Lewis Junior. He has the hair of a Sikh Prince (yes, that Prince), a fabulous moustache, a whiff of rockabilly and an intensity that is brooding and cheerful in equal measure.

Maybe it’s the music. Twin Shadow’s 2010 debut, Forget, pinballs between Bunnymen-style post-punk and epic Depeche Mode electro-drone. The sound is dreamlike and wistful but the nostalgia it evokes is not of lost happiness but of grazed knees on suburban curbs.

The band emerges to a ripped-up version of Shooting Holes. On the album it’s a groovy, low-slung affair with an addictive looping keyboard riff, but on stage it’s a punked-up splash in the face. This is Twin Shadow’s first UK date on this tour and George tells us: “Don’t get me wrong, but you sound like obnoxious Americans tonight… I love it!”

And then we’re back in the ‘burbs, this time grazing our hearts while keyboardist Wynne Bennett scythes through the long grass with three sharp synths. “And when you were 15 / I know what you said / I’ll never let another black boy break my heart,” sings George on Tyrant Destroyed, a journey through unforgotten teen heartaches.

Born in the Dominican Republican and raised in Florida, the man behind Twin Shadow could nearly be singing about Salford. The rain-soaked pleas of The Cure and The Smiths cut more clearly through this group than anything of the Sunshine State. The yearning Slow comes closest to the M62, followed by the pulmonary ‘Tether Beat’ with its cascading melody and the repeated question “Does your heart still beat?” And there’s a throbbingly apocalyptic version of Castles in the Snow where “everything I touch goes cold”.

But where Morrissey was an awkward sex symbol, George Lewis Jr. exudes an exotic swagger as he effortlessly flirts with the entire crowd. “Twin Shadow – he makes my d**k hard!” booms a delighted boy on the front row. As adoration goes, it beats a brush with a gladiolus.

Anna Doble

This article first appeared in the Spectator Arts Blog, May 2011

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