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MUSIC FOR COFFEE: Writchy Wrylab explains why Xui Xui's Twin Peaks soundtrack is pretty fucking great

Xiu Xiu - Plays The Music of Twin Peaks (Polyvinyl)

There aren’t many television soundtracks like the soundtrack for Twin Peaks. Angelo Badalamenti’s eerie score combined jazz, ambient, minimal synth, and dream pop in a way that broadcast television had never before heard.

Covering such a work could be tricky. A cover that is too close to the original is little more than a duplication; an irrelevant copy. On the other hand, a cover that veers too far from the source sacrifices the essence of what made the music of Twin Peaks so engaging. With Xiu Xiu Plays The Music of Twin Peaks, the band finds a balance where they pay tribute to Angelo Badalamenti’s work while still expressing themselves as artists and musicians.

The album is unlike most of the other works in the Xiu Xiu’s discography. Jamie Stewart’s distinct, howling falsetto is largely absent. Xiu Xiu’s delicious habit of excessive indulgence is restrained. The drama is toned down. Yet, the band still sounds like itself. It just sounds like a different version of itself. 

Xiu Xiu’s tone is more aggressive than Badalamenti’s. Laura Palmer’s Theme, for example, is as sad as the original, but Xiu Xiu pull below the track with an undertow of menace. Audrey’s Dance is still mischievously sexy, but the band adds ripples of uncomfortable noise below Badalamenti’s iconic sultry-jazz bassline. The strain almost boils over in Blue Frank / Pink Room. Xiu Xiu hinges these two track together and dumps a sprawling piece of post-punk guitar psychedelica. It is quite a deviation from the original, and yet it seems to fit perfectly. 

Song selection is a big part of why this album works as well as it does. Xiu Xiu is covering the music of Twin Peaks, but they aren’t duplicating the original playlist. Instead, they choose what best reflects their style. They pull from the original Twin Peaks release, the 2007 extended release, and from the bonus tracks that were posted at davidlynch.com. The use what works for them and ignore the rest. (The only track that didn’t really fit was the last one; it was an awkward spoken-word piece where Angela Seo reads from the fictional diary of Laura Palmer. But this is a minor gripe for an otherwise outstanding album.)

The liner notes on the record have the band praising the original artists; Angelo Badalamenti, David Lynch, Julee Cruise, and Jimmy Scott. The printed accolades were a nice touch. But the real compliment was in the music. This album says more about Xiu Xiu’s appreciation of Badalamenti’s score than words ever could.



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