Out today, on the Grand Jury label, the new long-player from Twin Peaks, Down In Heaven, is a bit of a head-scratcher for fans of this band. So look, let's cut the bs folks: those of you looking for Wild Onion (2014) "Part 2" are gonna be sorely disappointed. However, those of you looking for a really fun listening experience are gonna have...a really fun listening experience, but I don't want to lowball the charms here by saying that.
I mean, my first thought when playing a lot of this was: "Oh boy, someone's gotta a hold of some Royal Trux records!" Yeah, the changes in styles are *that* apparent on some of this as the Twin Peaks guys have gone from indie riffs in some spots to nearly bedraggled styles in others. But, hey, if you're gonna hold up Down In Heaven and complain that the band have expanded their sound, and that they are taking too many risks here? Too bad; you'd never be happy anyway even if all the big hooks were still here. I mean, how the hell could anyone not like the utterly snide and sublime "Butterfly", all Standells-snarls jutting up against old Monkees-style coo-ing. Gloriously catchy and impossible to adequately describe so just let me say it's aces! "You Don't" and "Cold Lips" betray hints of earlier American indie stalwarts like Pavement and Sonic Youth, but the melodic dissolution of "Heavenly Showers" feels more Brit -- think The Libertines only Yanks. "Getting Better" has a near-honky-tonk strut that recalls the Stones as well as bits of Led Zeppelin III while being entirely more concise than it has any right to be; this sort of stuff easily slips into near-parody in other hands but things stay together here. Twin Peaks, remarkably at times, keep the focus on the tunes even if proceedings sound decidedly sloppy.
At least I can say that on Down In Heaven there's rarely a mis-step amid the disarray. Only "Stain" feels forced, as if someone pointed out the blues-y bits in the music and the kids just ran with it. "Holding Roses" even manages to nod in the direction of The Faces and T.Rex with some measure of success despite also being a bit of a reach for these cats.
Twin Peaks made something of a perfect album last time out but there are many traces of perfection on Down In Heaven too. Just forgive me for not loving it instantly as much as I did Wild Onion. All that being said, there are some delightful and invigorating moments here in the cuts, especially the ones that feel like singles. At their best, Twin Peaks can craft a kind of disheveled indie that fits them as naturally as languid poeticism fits Pete and Carl in The Libs.