Down in Heaven
“Have you ever been told to follow your dreams? Have you ever seen the wave of shit that it brings?”
Since the release of their second album, Twin Peaks have been [insert metaphor of badass youthful rock band]. Ask anyone who’s happened to see them live or partied with them: they’re youth on fire, hell on wheels, and stoned out of their heads. Seeing them last year, I watched Cadien “Big Tuna” Lake James break a guitar string and have the rest of his bandmates kill time by calling him a “jabroni” and then play quick jam of “Take Five”. It was watching 5 best friends take to the stage and have the best time they could.
Well even in Heaven, it’s possible to have an off-day. With their third record, Twin Peaks have added keyboardist Colin Croom, and expanded their sound from the garage to the concert hall. From leading single “Walk to The One You Love”, Twin Peaks are straying from the fuzzy party anthems of “Flavour” and “Strawberry Smoothie” that lit up Wild Onion.Inspired by the intimate sounds of records such as Village Green Preservation Society or the White Album this is the dudes of Twin Peaks taking a big step in a new direction.
Employing the mixing abilities of John Angello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) the record was recorded in a friend’s cottage in Western Massachusetts in exchange that they buy their own food and beer. It must have been a well needed rest. As we’ve all learned from Journey’s “Faithfully” or Jon Bon Jovi’s “Dead Or Alive” the road is a tough place to be. As documented on multiple songs throughout the record, the road has not always been kind to Twin Peaks. “Butterfly” was written while guitarist Clay Frankel was “in a sickened state after playing twelve or so shows in five days” and ended up writing what he calls a “doomy dance song”. Songs like “Cold Lips” also manage to carry a sweet melody while at the same time telling the girl in the song that “the only good reason for [her] clothes to come off is so somebody can use a whip”. It’s enough to make the listener go: “Dude, you doing alright?”.
Rubber Soul isn’t just a great record because it had “Norwegian Wood” and “Michelle”, it managed to effectively marry sweet melodies with dark, brooding lyrics. Songs like “Girl”, “I’m Looking Through You”, and especially “Run For Your Life” all dealt with a creepier, angrier side of the fab four. The title wasn’t just a clever play on words, the soul was black.Down in Heaven manages to complete the same feat: the band deals with heartbreak, the kissing-off a lover, romantic indifference, the fear of getting older, rejection, the inability for outsiders to understand the life of a touring band, and being a functioning drug user; when the band sings in a nicotine-and-alcohol-fuelled chorus: “I can’t help but piss all my youth down the well”, you can feel the brotherhood that pulses through the band. The songs feel like they had to be written for the sake of the band’s collective mental well-being as opposed to just making a new record.
Though not all cathartic works made by artists can sound good, this one does. Groovy, finger-snapping numbers like “You Don’t”, and “Keep it Together” carry the groove fromWild Onion to something more polished. The instrumentation on the album stands out well, horns, keyboards and percussion are all used. It’s a symphony written by stoned teenagers in dirty shirts. Though not all the songs are gems (“My Boys” has a melody that just doesn’t stick), and part of me wishes that I could tell them to lighten up on the girl who deserves “a shiny gold medal for being the coldest bitch [they] know”, Twin Peaks have managed to take all that negativity from the road and come back with a solid collection of tunes.
Considering how strong their last effort was, you would have thought that the band had peaked; thankfully with these guys, there’s another one on the horizon.
review by Graham Caldwell