Casey Nugent ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Fans of the Chicago garage-rockers’ last album, 2014’s Wild Onion, might have been expecting more of the same on Twin Peaks’ latest effort. But Down in Heaven, released on May 13, proves that Twin Peaks is looking towards the future, already evolving and expanding their sound.
The major changes for Twin Peaks are the addition of a keyboardist, the excellent Colin Croom, and the move from more punk and garage influences to more country and bluegrass vibes. The willingness to change and adapt to newer and fresher styles is a marker of almost every great rock band, including the ones Down in Heaven most clearly draw from—the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys. For Twin Peaks, a band of young twenty-somethings on only their third record, it’s shocking to see how quickly and smartly they’ve decided to take this approach. They’re playing the long game, already gaining the wizened maturity it takes some rockers five or six albums to achieve.
Which isn’t to say Down in Heaven is anything but a fun, youthful record. The May release date was a great move, as the whole album is evocative of the lazy, hazy days of summer. Songs like “Butterfly” showcase the awesome energy that fans have come to expect from Twin Peaks. But it’s tracks like “Heavenly Showers,” a more mellow and obviously country-inspired song, that let audiences in on where the band is growing and learning. “Heavenly Showers” is a fantastic track that proves Twin Peaks can mesh new sounds and styles with their old vibe. It doesn’t feel so new that it might as well be a different band, still keeping the lo-fi garage-rock guitars, but it’s also radically different from anything else they’ve done before. Those moments on Down in Heaven are exciting, because they seem to foreshadow the path Twin Peaks wants to follow as a band. The band manages to be evocative of more mellow rockers like My Morning Jacket and Mac Demarco without ever feeling like they’re ripping off another sound, or like it’s anything but a natural progression for the band. It’s a way of letting the audience know that they’re going to continue changing and evolving musically.
Down in Heaven also exposes some of the band’s weaker points. “My Boys” for instance sounds and feels more like a rejected Beach Boys song than a solid Twin Peaks effort, and at only three and a half minutes long it still drags down the energy of the whole album. Further, Down in Heaven is still a lot like both Wild Onion and Sunken in its lyrical immaturity. “Cold Lips,” in particular feels like a backslide, relying on lazy rhyme and misogyny in it’s first verse—“you oughtta get yourself a shiny gold medal for being the coldest bitch I know.” One can’t help but wonder what Twin Peaks might do with slightly more serious subject matter.
While they’ve evolved musically since Wild Onion, Twin Peaks still feels like a young band. It’s good to see their willingness to change their musical style. Down in Heaven is only their third album, so they have plenty of room to continue growing, and they need to keep the upward momentum. Hopefully Down in Heaven is their last ‘lazy days of summer’ record, and we’ll see them entering into newer and more difficult territory with their next release.