“It’s good for you. It’s like cleaning your throat in reverse.” That was Twin Peaks drummer Connor Brodner, talking to American website Spin seconds after throwing up at this year’s SXSW festival. He does the same in the trailer for the Chicago rock ‘n’ rollers filmed for third album ‘Down In Heaven’, which also features canoeing, a rubber pigeon mask and a shitload of weed and booze. Twin Peaks enjoy carnage: in 2014, singer Cadien Lake James drunkenly broke his leg onstage and had to tour in a wheelchair. 2012’s ‘Sunken’ and 2014 follow-up ‘Wild Onion’ sounded like their creators acted – full of chaotic energy. The calmer, more spacious ‘Down In Heaven’, however, suggests they may have swapped bongs for board games.
The album was recorded in close friend Ben Kramer’s house in leafy Massachusetts and is plush with piano, trumpet (from Will Miller of fellow Chicagoans Whitney) and a more mature take on their Rolling Stones obsession. The five-piece have added consideration and restraint to their usual wheezing approach.
It begins with ‘Walk To The One You Love’, a sleepy little number that sees Lake James supplement his lead vocal with yips of “Ow!“. Second track ‘Wanted You’ is joyous and weird in the same way San Francisco’s Girls were on 2009 classic ‘Album’, with guitarist Clay Frankel throatily singing about a “purple cat floating down the stairwell” over gentle guitars. In only six minutes, Twin Peaks have set an extremely laid-back tone.
Aided by mixing from Kurt Vile collaborator John Agnello, this porch-side atmosphere is seductive, especially during countrified charmer ‘Heavenly Showers’. Even the faster, dirtier likes of ‘Butterfly’, ‘Cold Lips’ and ‘Holding Roses’ – all powered by Frankel’s ragged howling – feel chilled. So too does ‘My Boys’ – one of two contributions from bassist Jack Dolan, it sets lyrics about getting stoned on the road to “ba da bas” that ape The Monkees. ‘Keep It Together’ – written by keyboardist Colin Croom – is also rooted in the 1960s, but its bluesy groove and honking breakdown owe more to Keith Richards than Davy Jones.
Bleary finale ‘Have You Ever?’ sweetly cements Twin Peaks’ move to a statelier sound. If only they’d had slowies like these when Lake James was gigging in a wheelchair…
- Record label: Grand Jury
- Release date: 13 May, 2016