There’s a type of rock music perfectly keyed into helping you chill out, and Twin Peaks sure knows how to play it. Their new offering, Down in Heaven, suggests moshing at their shows would make you the asshole in the crowd rather than part of the punk rock masses. This is the sort of indie rock where you listen with your arms folded, your head moving to the laid-back beats, feeling way happier about it than you may visibly show.
Twin Peaks does great work as a bridge between the raucous and ramshackle songs you lose your shit to and tracks you play while driving idyllically by some quiet yet awe-inspiring ocean/lake/forest/natural phenomena. If they came on at a festival between FIDLAR and Frankie Cosmos, fans of both would be satisfied, and it’s a decisive part of their charm.
The way they so adeptly toe the line is by obeying the rules of old-school pop rock songwriting (think The Hollies and The Kinks more than The Beatles and The Beach Boys) while staying shot through with youthful exuberance. The songs on Down to Heaven don’t really ever exceed the energy of The Kinks’ “You’ve Really Got Me” but they always seem seconds away from bursting into the wildness of The 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” It’s worth remembering even The Rolling Stones spent most of the mid-’60s playing these sorts of mid-tempo songs and proving they rocked. For that matter, mid-album song “Cold Lips” features the sort of snarling vocal Jagger would be proud of.
Mellowing out the primal spirit of rock and roll can really go awry, but from “Walk to the One You Love” to “Have You Ever?,” the guys in Twin Peaks assuage any fears by writing all sorts of bluesy and power poppy guitar hooks that’ll show up in your memory as much as any of the lyrics or vocal melodies on the album. There’s a jangle you’d find on the first Big Star album and the sort of swampy grime you’d hear on a Stooges song when Iggy was more focused on dancing than rolling around in glass.
Twin Peaks’ greatest attribute is how they feel no need to fit into any of specific niche. They aren’t just reviving ‘60s garage like any given number of Burger Records bands. They’re not just trying to be a new version of The Kinks or The Stones a la Foxygen. They aren’t just trying to do the sort of gently flowing music made famous by bands like Real Estate and labels like Captured Tracks.
There’s nothing wrong with any of the above groups. I love a lot of them. But there still seems to be something especially right about how Twin Peaks are retaining a level of familiarity with anyone who likes rock music while getting to be better and more songwriters with each passing album.
For more Twin Peaks content, check out their 2014 Daytrotter session in the player below.