Cadien Lake James, vocalist and guitarist for Chicago, Illinois garage rockers Twin Peaks, has the ideal singing voice for his band’s latest collection of songs that range from upbeat, danceable hip shakers to downtempo, melancholic heartbreakers. Sounding like a cross between the wistfully emotive former Girls frontman Christopher Owens and a down and dirty Mick Jagger, Twin Peaks’ lead singer tears his heart out on thirteen songs, lovingly touched by famed studio mixer John Agnello, that have lyrics dealing with relationships, loneliness, sex, regret, and hope.
There aren’t any surprises on Down in Heaven. The rollicking “Walk to the One You Love”, which opens the record, is followed immediately by the gentle ballad “Wanted You”. These back to back tracks exemplify the full style spectrum in which Twin Peaks operate musically throughout the rest of the album. Highlights include: the ode to apathy “You Don’t” which sounds like a garage rock update of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ 1965 hit “The Tracks of My Tears”, the mostly acoustic “Heavenly Showers” which is appropriately punctuated with buoyant horns, and the lovely, rhythm-centric “Lolisa” where the brass section appears again, this time adopting a British music hall feel.
Although predictable in style from song to song, Down in Heaven provides enough skillful lead guitar work and instrumental variety to keep the record interesting over multiple listens. It would have been nice to hear an occasional drum and bass breakdown in order for the band’s capable rhythm section to show off their own swagger and looseness. As well it may have helped to break up the record’s predictability to have Cadien Lake James let go and emote more than the album’s single, seemingly improvised yelp which he delivers during “Lolisa”. These minor quibbles aside, Twin Peaks have released a solid record that helps to further distinguish themselves amongst their indie peers while leaving room to grow in anticipation of future releases.