Twin Shadow: Confess (4AD)

Without irony, George Lewis Jr. references the throb-throb electronic rhythms, keyboard swells and skittering guitar of '80s synth-pop. On his second album, Lewis' charming songs un-self-consciously map the regions of romantic joy and drama.

By default, some contemporary-minded listeners may call his music chillwave, but it really embraces a sound we used to call new wave. He carefully crafts delicate spires and lattices of pop-rock that sounded modern 30 years ago, but maybe now constitute just another valid stylistic statement.

The opening tune, "Golden Light," sets a yearning tone, pondering the existence of salvation and emotional rescue in a cynical age. Lewis' jury is still out on whether we'll be saved from ourselves, but he's hopeful.

With a bouncing beat and rippling riffs, "Five Seconds," perhaps the best song here, could be a heretofore apocryphal track accidentally excluded from an MTV 120 Minutes collection. The song's nostalgia quotient is high enough that you'll want to hear it again and again, but you'll never really be able to identify a specific artist—is that Tears for Fears, Peter Gabriel or Level 42?—as a dominant inspiration.

With slapping electronics replicating a chain-gang rhythm, "I Don't Care" is a robust exploration of the ambiguities of romance, while "Be Mine Tonight" is a tentative plea for intimacy.

Through the vehicle of Twin Shadow, Lewis is able to distill the basic ingredients of sound, then recombine them with results that sound instinctively familiar but feel original. His movingly soulful voice adds to the winning recipe.