Twin Peaks first caught my ear with their 2019 release, Lookout Low, which was one of my favorite albums from that year. My love for the album led to a dive into the Chicago-based band’s back catalog. Soon I found myself listening to them quite regularly. And now over the past month, I have had all of the band’s albums on an endless rotation.
It was enjoyable to go back and witness the evolution of Twin Peaks (Cadien Lake James, Clay Frankel, Jack Dolan, Connor Brodner, Colin Croom)—from excellent two-minute garage rock songs on Sunken and Wild Onion to more of a late-’60s classic rock feel on Down in Heaven and Lookout Low. It quickly became clear: whatever style they decide to tackle, Twin Peaks has been creating some incredible music for years now.
And thankfully, they don’t appear to be slowing down. Twin Peaks’ new EP Side A, released July 3 via Grand Jury Music, features yet another tweak to the band’s sound—one that, frankly, I’m loving. The four songs bring an almost dream-like quality and at times dip into psychedelic rock aspects that haven’t shown up much on Twin Peaks albums previously. I’m not sure if this is more of a fun jaunt for the band or if it’s something we’ll see more in-depth on future full-length releases. And as with previous albums, Twin Peaks on Side A takes advantage of its multiple songwriters to keep things from getting stale (I’m pretty sure each song on the EP is written by a different band member), while also creating a seamless sound that works so well.
The first track on Side A, “What’s the Matter,” with its fuzzy (the good kind of fuzzy) sound, will get in your head for days. The song was released a couple of weeks ahead of the EP’s debut, and I probably listened to it 20 times in a row the first time I heard it. Its classic rock sound is punctuated with keys and just the right amount of flute. “What’s the Matter” also features fellow Chicago artists Ohmme and VV Lightbody, both of which have released albums this year. It’s a good old-fashioned love song with a couple of references to Zelda (it mentions Ganon and Bokoblins)—really, what more can you ask for?
Next up is the outstanding “Whistle in the Wind (End of Everything),” my favorite track of Side A. Here, the dream sounds are in full effect, with this magical feel that is very new to Twin Peaks but works so well. And this may be the closest that the band Twin Peaks has felt to the TV show.
After the first chorus…
It’s what you get
It’s where you are
It’s not a race
What a world, what a world
…a saxophone and complementary keys swirl around in a cloud of wonder before leading into the next verse. The presence of the sax (and similarly with the flute in “What’s the Matter”) is subtle but provides the perfect accent to this journey through the streets of Chicago during a pandemic.
The second have of Side A may not be as strong as the first, but I’d say this is merely because the first two songs are so good. “Any More Than You Want” gives off late-era Beatles vibes and transitions directly into the EP’s final track, “Above/Below.”
With “Above/Below,” we get Twin Peaks experimenting with psych-rock elements and producing a song that’s over six and half minutes—the longest song in the band’s catalog to date. Once again, Twin Peaks nails the new style, with eerie guitars, a thumping drum beat, and soaring vocals.
Things suck in the world right now, pretty much on every level. But I am grateful for music and that it is, for the most part and for now, able to live on at this moment. Side A was completed remotely due to COVID-19, with vocals being sent in one at a time from home and contributors such as Ohmme using their own recording set-ups as well.
The EP continues to prove that Twin Peaks is evolving and thriving with the many different sounds they approach. I can’t wait to see what they do next.