Artist: Twin Peaks
Album: Sweet ’17 Singles
Genre: Indie Rock
Put-it-on-a-Playlist: “Shake Your Lonely,” “Sun and the Trees,” “We Will Not Make It (Not Without You)”
This Chicago five-piece has always been interesting—they’re young and they certainly have potential. Twin Peaks are like a high-school player drafted straight to the pros. Sometimes you’ll get a Kevin Garnett, but other times you’ll get a Sebastian Telfair—a project that, with the right coaching, can hopefully evolve into a valued contributor.
Well, Twin Peaks are basically all grown up now. Founding vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Cadien Lake James has reached the ripe old age of 22. As such, Twin Peaks has matured into a viable indie rock melody-machine.
Throughout 2017, Twin Peaks—named after the restaurant chain, not the pantheon TV series—released a number of singles as part of their subscription service. All 12 of the previous year’s folky, fuzzy and precocious garage gems are compiled on Sweet ’17 Singles, an album that finds a young band finding themselves.
Twin Peaks aren’t really all that original—deadpan vocals echo the likes of Lou Reed, Thurston Moore and Jim Reid, kaleidoscopic guitar strumming resembles Real Estate, and the fuzzy throwback sound reminds me of Ty Segall. But the Peaks are not copycats—there aren’t many bands this pure, youthful and easy on the ear.
There is also soul in every single song, whether it’s the puppy love lyrics or the authentic indie licks. And the dream pop never stops—lo-fi production values are used strategically and endearingly. The best is when saxophones poke through the haze, resulting in something that is truly original. I guess I’ll recant all I said in the previous paragraph.
The Peaks keep Midwestern rock values close at hand—the influence of fellow Chicagoans Wilco are felt in the Americana dashes of piano, acoustics and harmonica. Their lyrics, appropriately hidden behind murky vocals, trace plain-folks values with high-school romance.
Now that Twin Peaks has relinquished their ‘60s garage rock tendencies in favor of something a little more tender, they have emerged as a breakout group to keep an eye on going forward. I should have been listening in 2017, but a late discovery is still a discovery nonetheless.
Hearing this record gave me the same thrill as when I first discovered another underground darling called Cloud Nothings. With more exposure, the Peaks could eventually make the leap from the bedroom to the Pitchfork Best Of.
Closing with the nearly seven-minute “We Will Not Make It (Not Without You)” suggests they should have been on everyone’s radar from the very start.