Twin Shadow Olympic Community Hall, Halifax NS, October 24

Twin Shadow Olympic Community Hall, Halifax NS, October 24
Photo: Ali Seglins
Twin Shadow played Halifax Pop Explosion three years ago, but don't ask George Lewis Jr. to recall how it went. "I don't remember a damn thing about the last time I was here," he explained to the crowd, a few songs into his band's set at Olympic Hall. "My guess is I drank too much tequila."

Here's hoping this visit proved a bit more memorable. (The band's late-night food search the night before certainly was, with Lewis offering a mid-set story as an excuse to express his apparently deep dislike of poutine and his fandom for Halifax icons the Trailer Park Boys.) Opening with "Five Seconds" from 2012's Confess, Lewis and his three-piece band filled the speakers with their widescreen 1980s pop, a sound that embodies a wistful-yet-powerful sort of nostalgic neediness. Lewis' heart-on-sleeve anthems recall prom nights, wedding dances and all sorts of other heightened life moments that require soundtracks that put it all on the table. In other words, a Twin Shadow set is high on feelings, low on subtlety.

What made Friday's (October 24) set so effective is how Lewis performed his pop songs with just enough of a rock edge to give them an extra dose of power. He wields his electric guitar with big, noisy distortion, and he uses a much rawer vocal tone — raspy, yelling — than on the record. New song "To the Top," released as a one-off single earlier this year, embodied what works so well about the show: It was a slow-burning ballad that exploded into a chorus catchy enough that you felt compelled to sing along even if you barely knew the words. The effect was a set that had some bite and muscle to counter its sugary pop sweetness.