On the face of it, Will Toledo is the last man on earth you’d expect to see revisiting an old record, especially so soon after he finally broke through with 2016’s ‘Teens of Denial’; that was, despite his tender years, already his tenth LP, which tells you all you need to know not just about his work ethic, but about his ferocious appetite for constant forward motion. In actual fact, though, the decision to go back and re-record his sixth album, the 2011 fan favourite ‘Twin Fantasy’, was so important to him that he made sure the opportunity to do so was written into his contract with Matador. Despite how well-loved the original is, Toledo clearly regards it as the one that got away.
Now, though, he has time, money and resources, and isn’t running everything through a knackered old laptop in his bedroom. The conventional wisdom would be that a comparatively hi-fi re-run of ‘Twin Fantasy’ would rob it of much of its charm, but this redux is hardly an exercise in polish; Toledo’s vocals remain unvarnished, and the instrumentation remains cluttered and imperfect to the point of feeling chaotic. The result, really, is somewhere close to how a ‘Twin Fantasy’ live album might have turned out sounding; there’s an irrepressible energy to twin epics ‘Beach Life-in-Death’ and ‘Famous Prophets (Stars)’, especially, that run on ramshackle charm rather than coming off as painstakingly-constructed studio epics.
The poppier moments, meanwhile, pack more punch than ever, with the primary cases in point being ‘Nervous Young Inhumans’ and ‘Cute Thing’. The latter, though, actually serves to remind you that so much of Toledo’s appeal in his lyrics and persona – the original had him asking god for Dan Bejar’s voice and John Entwistle’s stage presence. This time around, he’s tweaked it to instead request Frank Ocean’s croon and James Brown’s dance moves. If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.