By Gene Wagendorf III
Twin Peaks sound like a young band. That isn't a slight, nor is it a reference to their age or the length of time they've been playing together. Doe-eyed as they may be, it's their sound that's young. It's refreshing, bubbling over with reckless joy and seemingly boundless energy. I first caught Twin Peaks earlier this summer at The Whip and, truth be told, they're the only band I remember from that night. Say what you will about my borderline alcoholism, the group completely stole the show and left me eager for more. When I first got a hold of their debut record, Sunken, I was as excited as I was worried. Would the record capture the energy of their live performance? Would the album's production bury their melodies in a lo-fi haze? Was I fondly recalling their set because drunken basement shows are always fun, even if the bands suck?
Sometimes I worry a lot for absolutely no reason. This is one of those times.
The record begins with "Baby Blue," a smooth garage jangle heavy on fuzz, but tight enough to sustain. The song's slightly stuttered riff unfolds into a charmingly lithe melody that ambles through the distortion with the urgency of a stroll along the lakefront. The rhythm section is appropriately subdued on the tune, relying on husky vocals to counter the brightness of the lead guitar. Those drums move from quietly splashy to urgent and decisive on "Natural Villain," where they snap and tumble against plumes of Buddy Holly-on-Vicodin croons. The jaunt only ceases to be casual at its conclusion, when the thrash picks up to match an almost pained lyric exclamation. By the time the guitars melt down to silence, Sunken seems ready to take off.
"Fast Eddie" tears across the next two and a half minutes, a punky romp featuring vocals that bob between Iggy Pop and Bryan Ferry. Kicked off by a rumbling, determined bass line, the song erupts into an elastic chorus that begs to be danced to. Buzz-saw rhythm guitars lift the lead's shimmering breedle to a plateau of sheer giddiness. Twin Peaks truly get it right on this track; each member performing his role to perfection. The result is a song that ought to be the anthem of the last day of school, or the moment you cast off your clothes before skinny dipping on a hot summer afternoon. "Out of Commission" and "Stand in the Sand" offer nice glimpses of the range of influences Twin Peaks summon up on Sunken. The former is a scuzzy, riotous mosher executed with the same glee that Black Lips have rested their laurels on, while "Sand" calls back to cool '60s pop tunes about girls and beaches.
What is perhaps most exciting about Sunken again comes back to youth. Twin Peaks sound like a confident band who are still exploring their own identity. As the record plays on you can hear the group reconciling their considerable pop smarts with their penchant for manic blasting. "Out of Commission," even at a minute and a half, is a little much, akin to dumping twenty or so Pixy Stix into your mouth at once. On the other hand, "Irene" is a mellow glimmer that never gets out of its own way and never builds to anything truly captivating. These are exceptions to the rule on Sunken, and knowing that this is the first step in what will hopefully be a long journey is encouraging. Twin Peaks have the time and the talent to grow, and there are plenty of moments on Sunken that suggest we won't have to wait long for a truly great follow up.
Sunken is available for purchase digitally here, and on cassette (Manic Static) at live shows. You can pick up a copy and see Twin Peaks live at upcoming shows Friday, 8/24 at FeelTrip Studios ($5, 18+) and Saturday, 8/25 at The Whip (1633 N. Whipple, $5, All Ages). Check out "Fast Eddie" below: