Twin Peaks has one defining ethos and it's to keep pushing. They've embraced change ever since their 2010 formation as high school friends making scrappy basement rock ‘n' roll to now cementing their status as one of Chicago's most essential bands. Where their last LP, 2016's Down In Heaven, and 2017's Sweet ‘17 Singles compilation were adventurous and compelling updates on their youthfully raucous formula, their fourth album Lookout Low feels like a total revolution. The album was helmed by legendary producer Ethan Johns who proclaimed that, "Twin Peaks are the best Rock and Roll band I've heard for a very long time," said Johns. "Not only do they have something to say, they do it honestly, and with dedication and passion."
The songs are bursting with energy, like the spidery jam-minded opener "Casey's Groove," a mind-melder that is reassuring thanks to James' inviting croon. Following the tracking, Twin Peaks recruited their Chicago comrades OHMME to sing backup vocals on seven of the ten tracks. Cuts like "Under A Smile" transform with Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham's spectral harmonies. Throughout the LP, multi-instrumentalist Colin Croom wrote horn arrangements that at times evokes the soulfulness of Allen Toussaint and the burly Americana of the E Street Band. The auxiliary percussion from drummer Kyle Davis expands the already breezy and spread out compositions.
What makes Lookout Low a triumph is how each individual member of the band upped their songwriting for the LP. The Cadien Lake James-led opener stands as his most impressive offering yet in sheer confidence and experimentation while Jack Dolan's plaintive "Unfamiliar Sun" is possibly the album's most affecting track, burrowing into self-reflection and hard truths. But for Croom, who joined the band following their 2014 sophomore LP Wild Onion, his contributions in "Laid In Gold" and "Ferry Song" showcase perhaps the biggest leap forward. For the latter, Croom left Chicago in Spring 2018 to spend a week writing in New Orleans. He stayed at Algiers Point, taking the ferry to the city each day. As the track hits its boiling point, Croom accesses a part of his vocal range he's only hinted at in previous record.
The LP closes with "Sunken II" a song Dolan had written for the band years ago. It's a moment of resonance capping Lookout Low, a document of how much they've grown as friends and artists from their teenage beginnings. No band could come up with a full-length so deliberate and seamless if not for having that singular bond that's only grown tighter as their lives have changed. It's a brotherhood, one that's endured for almost a decade.