Before he assumed the stage name Twin Shadow, George Lewis Jr. was searching — for an artistic identity, an audience, a city to call home. Raised in Florida, Lewis spent time in Boston starting in the early 2000s, fronting the band Mad Man Films and collaborating with Cambridge’s Drug Rug.
It was a stretch of years that Lewis doesn’t look back on too fondly in interviews or during his concerts here, and it was only when he left for New York that he hatched his most high-profile project. He created Twin Shadow almost as an alter ego, an ’80s New Romantic with a pompadour, remnants of Fleetwood Mac’s wardrobe, and a nocturnal sexuality that played up his reputation as a ladies man.
After two albums of time-warped indie rock, Lewis let it be known that he had loftier ambitions, dreams that didn’t correspond to an indie level of stardom. He was gunning to make the sort of widescreen pop songs you hear on Top 40 radio, with choruses designed to ring out in surround sound in stadiums. He got signed to a major label, Warner Bros. Records, moved to California, and began work on his third album.
Set for release on Tuesday, “Eclipse” is the result of Lewis’s steady climb to the big leagues. Except the mainstream label, and presumably its fatter budget, didn’t quite expand Lewis’s vision; it sanded off its edges. The album plays like a diluted version of Twin Shadow, with discernible traces of everyone from neo-R&B singer Miguel to power-pop sister act Haim. Bombast overrides any sense of nuance in these overblown songs that are in desperate search of a “Twilight” or “Game of Thrones” soundtrack.
It’s not too early to say Twin Shadow’s debut, 2010’s “Forget,” will go down as a classic that captured its maker at a creative crossroads. Lewis was in full force on his first outing, hungry to round a corner and willful enough to make it happen. Two years later, “Confess” hinted at the idea that maybe Lewis was caving under the weight of who and what Twin Shadow was supposed to be.
“Eclipse,” by comparison, is claustrophobic, so mindful of its parameters and target audience that it loses sight of what makes Lewis such a colorful, and soulful, character. The lyrics especially suffer, starting with “To the Top.” It’s explosive but hollow, firmly in the canon of anthemic pop peddled by Bastille and Bleachers. Lewis is more at ease on “Old Love/New Love,” a sure-footed but loose attempt at dance-pop.
Lewis, who brings Twin Shadow to the Paradise Rock Club on April 3, is still a relatable R&B sensualist, and his laconic grandeur illuminates his ballads, including the title track, “Turn Me Up,” and “Alone” (featuring Lily Elise, a former contestant on “The Voice”). They’re the softer, more introspective moments on an album so afraid of them. If Lewis wanted to go bigger on “Eclipse,” he certainly succeeded. Better is another story. (Out Tuesday)