Album Review: Xiu Xiu – Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks

By Devon Hannan, Features Editor

[Polyvinyl; 2016]

Rating: 8/10

Key Tracks: “Laura Palmer’s Theme,” “Sycamore Trees,” “Falling”

It’s safe to say that David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is a television series that has it all: a jarring storyline, admirable characters with impeccable fashion, and a captivating soundtrack. In fact, the critically acclaimed original soundtrack by Angelo Badalamenti could very well be considered one of the best television compositions of all time.

With that being said, it’s easy to see why noise pop band Xiu Xiu decided to cover eight of Badalamenti’s songs for a Record Store Day-exclusive release. The result is very impressive — the group closed a very large margin for error by completely blowing the original discography out of the water. Xiu Xiu’s quintessential take on Twin Peaks bridges the gap between the 90s mystery drama and modern experimental instrumentation beautifully.

For this kind of album, it would have been very easy to go over the top with synthesizers and loops, however Xiu Xiu avoids that altogether. Xiu Xiu’s point of success originates with the tactic to not dismantle Twin Peaks’s original sound, but rather incorporate and utilize it as the primary archetype. In other words, it actually sounds like Twin Peaks. The listener can pick out instrumentals and remember them being used in episodes. Its artistic interpretation could only be effective by capturing the perfect balance of nostalgia and innovation, a substance in which Xiu Xiu absolutely nails.

“Falling” is easily the most beautifully covered song on the album. The track’s booming and powerful bass lines are supported by some of the most haunting vocals produced this year. Of course, “Laura Palmer’s Theme” is formulated to encompass the evocative nature of her character. “Audrey’s Dance,” along with “Blue Frank/Pink Room” are two primary instrumental tracks that pair punching guitar riffs with groovy, otherworldly synths.

Everything is next to perfect until Xiu Xiu ends its ode to Twin Peaks in one of the most cringe-worthy ways possible. In a diary entry to her killer, one of the band members imitates Laura Palmer’s final farewell. The delivery comes off as kinky, rather than sensual and haunting, completely overlooking Laura’s seductive and even intelligent disposition.

Putting that aside, Xiu Xiu’s Plays the Music of Twin Peaks may be the perfect fit for the show’s reboot in 2017. Xiu Xiu masters the art of extending the show’s essence into an original work of art. If you haven’t already been a Twin Peaks fanatic, Xiu Xiu’s execution of Lynch’s masterpiece may be just what you need. As Agent Cooper would say, this is a FINE attack on a timeless piece of pop culture.

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