The title of Twin Shadow’s first release in three years, Caer, comes from the Spanish for “fall.” Twin Shadow, or George Lewis Jr., has succeeded in crafting an album that actually lives up to ideas expressed in the title. Besides literally meaning a “fall,” the title looks to English speakers like the word “care,” which coincidentally works just as well for the album. Each song, while largely staying in the “80s-esque electro-rock-pop” vibe Lewis has been cultivating through his past albums, also conveys the experience of falling into something new, or falling into love and care after making it through a challenging time.
The “fall” referenced in the title can simultaneously represent negative falls—like the fallout from the bus crash that severely injured Lewis and his bandmates in 2015, or the current downward spiral humanity seems to be in—or positive falls, like that into love. Although the former kind of fall is referenced vaguely in the album, the majority of these songs are variations of love songs, and they’re really good.
The album starts out strongly, with the first three songs featuring guest performers that help to color and elevate the songs. “Brace” and “Sympathy” both feature Lewis’ romantic partner, the musician Rainsford, who adds her ethereal backing vocals to the mix to subtly represent the person Lewis sings about in songs that explore the joys and challenges of being in a relationship. “Brace” explicitly references the album title, with a chorus featuring the lines “sometimes we brace, and then we fall/ sometimes we don’t feel right, sometimes we don’t fall at all,” and “Sympathy” crafts a very bubbly pop hook from the message of developing sympathy for each other, to truly understand another person. Both songs could be and should be radio hits of the summer. Sandwiched in-between those songs is the easy standout single from the album, “Saturdays,” which features HAIM. In a slightly better world, this song would easily be in contention for “song of the summer,” as it bounces along from the get-go and expertly recreates a kind of throwback vibe that the lyrics echo. It’s another song about taking advantage of the night and of your youth, but with a slightly less generic message than “let’s party hard then.” Lewis sings about making what you do and say count, because it could be the last time you get a chance to do and say those things. It’s not a heavy song to listen to, though, and with its title, it is basically the ideal weekend party song, or at the very least “driving with the top down on your way to the beach” song.
The middle of the album eases down after the three knockouts at the start, but still features interesting lyrics and sounds. “18 Years” is just as catchy as the three songs that precede it, but dips into melancholy territory, with lyrics contemplating heartbreaks that lead to early cynicism. “Little Woman” is the largest tonal departure on the album, as it becomes a synth-heavy, introspective dirge in what is surprisingly just three-and-a-half minutes. It’s a good song, but it does throw you for a loop when you first hear it sitting next to every other track on the album.
“When You’re Wrong,” about unrequited, “elephant in the room” kind of desire, is like a song written by the Weeknd’s fun alter ego. Lewis’ vocals and the tension built into the music help create the dark, kind of sweaty environment the song takes place in, and it’s a fun, slightly grimier version of the very up-tempo hits at the start of the album.
The end of the album does lose a little bit of the heat created at the start of Caer, but Lewis is still astoundingly adept at crafting hooks and songs that envelop you in seconds. “Littlest Things” and “Too Many Colors” are close to traditional love and pop songs, respectively, but through the lens of the classic Twin Shadow modern-80s sound. They sit between two “interludes,” which don’t end up adding much to the album. The last few tracks are almost opposites of the first three, being the least pop and hook-y of the album. “Runaway” specifically references the lyrics to “Brace,” which helps lend the otherwise-sleepy song an effect of closure. The album maybe should have ended there, but “Bombs Away (RLP)” ends Caer with a relatively unmemorable R&B-tinged song.
Ultimately, Caer succeeds in giving us a handful of new Twin Shadow hits, but they happen to be sitting among a handful of other, more forgettable songs. Despite that, the songs that work really work and if “Saturdays” at the very least doesn’t end up on several Spotify party playlists, pop fans are really doing something wrong.