Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP
On their fourth album, Lookout Low, Twin Peaks sound like they’re having a ball. The Chicago quintet formed in the early 2010’s as a precocious group of teenage garage-rock disciples, and their first few records fit snugly alongside the San Francisco garage revival of the time. But with their 2016 record Down In Heaven, the group shifted from stomping fuzz-pop to strolling blues that had more in common with Van Morrison than Ty Segall or Jay Reatard.
On Lookout Low, Twin Peaks double down on that style, finding their sweet spot in a mix of foot-tapping jams and glass-raising ballads. In a concerted effort to capture the freewheeling energy of their live shows, they enlisted English producer Ethan Johns, who’s known for tracking live recordings with arena-sized acts like Paul McCartney and Kings of Leon. Considering that was the goal, Lookout Low is a monumental success; Twin Peaks radiate the loose confidence of a live band throughout the entire record.
Standouts like the breezy “Better Than Stoned” and the funky “Dance Through It” lock into grooves that gradually crescendo into hearty group choruses, surrounded by plunky keyboard solos and warm trumpet gusts, respectively. “Ferry Song” recalls the uplifting tempo and sweet melody of Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl,” and co-vocalist Colin Croom pays obvious homage to The Band in the folk-rockin’ “Laid In Gold.” But Twin Peaks sound the most comfortable and the most themselves on the album’s title track, a bombastic sing-along that’s speckled with Clay Frankel’s charming “oh’s” and “ow’s” during the song’s generous climax.
This latest iteration of the band sounds virtually unrecognizable from their early work, and that may be a turn-off for longtime fans. But Twin Peaks have never sounded as joyfully in the moment as they do on Lookout Low, and hearing them let it rip in real-time almost makes you feel like you’re up there with them.