After establishing a reputation for raucous live shows in their hometown of Chicago, Twin Peaks quickly rose to broader indie prominence as word of their catchy, freewheeling garage punk spread. They captured that spirit on their studio and Grand Jury label debut, second album Wild Onion, in 2014. Two years later, and channeling a later version of the Stones, they offered the more reflective Down in Heaven. Another three years on, Twin Peaks make another course correction with fourth long-player Lookout Low. While the album still embraces a loose and lively temper, it presents a more mature context for that disposition as well as a tighter performance style developed from years of touring. Their first collaboration with producer Ethan Johns (Paul McCartney, Kings of Leon), Lookout Low was tracked live in the studio and favors a druggy jam-band feel with diversions into '70s roots rock. While this turn may alienate some fans of the unbridled quality of their origins, others will be taken with how well they do this, too. The album returns the five-piece lineup of Down in Heaven alongside guests including Ohmme, who overdubbed backing vocals on more than half the tracks. Horn arrangements were handled by Colin Croom, who joined the group after co-producing Wild Onion. He takes the lead on "Ferry Song," a horn-reinforced, Skynyrd-esque track inspired by daily ferry commutes during a stay in New Orleans. The easygoing funk of "Dance Through It," which served as the album's lead single, is delivered by guitarist Cadien James, while bassist Jack Dolan offers "Unfamiliar Sun," a rare melancholy entry. Elsewhere, the bright, serrated tones of Clay Frankel appear on songs including "Lookout Low," the cigarette-lighter anthem "Under a Smile," and the partly improvised "Oh Mama," the best example of "old-school" Twin Peaks on the record. Strong hooks abound on a true collaborative effort that officially passes the mantle to trad rock.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson