Here we are, the middle of the summer holidays. With the freshness of first year fully eclipsed, exam results out of the way and many catch-ups with home pals later (recurring ‘Haven’t seen you for ages! We must see each other more!’), I am just about settling into the much-anticipated ‘summer feeling’ of freedom and excess. My ten-hour train journeys around Europe offer me ample time to rifle through Spotify for new music—and discover Twin Peaks’ latest additions, ‘Shake Your Lonely’ and ‘Sun and the Trees’. Seeing them live at Citadel Festival in July reignited my love for the quintet’s charmingly messy middle-finger attitude (throwing rolls of toilet paper at the crowd was an innovative touch). ‘It’s gonna be, gonna be, gonna be, gonna be good’ chimes frontman Cadien James on the A-side ‘Shake Your Lonely’. Certainly, the buzz of Chi-town is alive and fast-walking within these tracks. The songs exude the band’s familiar road-trip spirit of long sunset drives in odour-ridden vans, zig-zagging between hot-dog stands, bowling alleys, skate parks and arcades. What could be a better soundtrack to my tedious cross-country slog from Krakow to Prague? [From experience I know those trains are just as odour-ridden! – Ed.]
Back in June, Twin Peaks broke the news about their subscription service Sweet ’17 Singles, in which every month for the rest of the year the Chicago-based band will release a 7” single. So – guaranteed ‘summer feeling’ throughout what remains of the year. Besides nurturing the growing popularity of the physical vinyl, this intermittent mode of release allows the band to fit song-writing into their hectic tour schedule, without being committed to creating a cohesive body of work. Indeed, each release gives us a bracing snapshot of an evolving, maturing band. This low-key duo of songs veers from their usual revelling in the life of the party towards a more mellow exploration of the morning after. Twin Peaks’ characteristic scuzzy garage-rock sound is toned down to create ‘Shake Your Lonely’, a bluesy folk rock ballad that comes close to Kurt Vile’s dusty-haze style. As tiny rural Hungarian villages roll past me outside the train window, the Sweet ’17 Singles playlist provides a sweet and much-needed complement; the earlier release ‘Under the Pines’, which perks up dull moments with its catchy saxophone segment whilst ‘Tossing Tears’ ambles by dreamily.
The B-side ‘Sun and the Trees’ throws nostalgically back to the band’s sloppy-but-fun debut album, Sunken. Its lilting guitar hooks and reverb-heavy vocals slowly lull me further, and farther into the clouds. The cryptic lyrics – ‘I feel I’d be better off dead’ – probe dark and deep-rooted emotions which are ultimately left unexplored, as the vocals eventually trail off into almost two minutes of brassy psychedelic instrumental. It’s their drive to experiment, and ability to build on their own ‘60s influences which make Twin Peaks’ new tunes so exciting. Each upload to the subscription series seems to mark a step on a transitional curve towards something bolder and greater. Shake Your Lonely/Sun and the Trees is my personal favourite so far, and whilst only being a short snippet of Twin Peaks’ overarching narrative, it nonetheless provides a cohesive addition to an increasingly full-bodied catalogue.
-- Georgina Quach, August 21, 2017