Is there another series that has been as influential on such a wide range of art forms as Twin Peaks? A loaded question, sure, but what can’t be argued with is the fact that it has and continues to find its way into music through artists as varied as The Wedding Present and Weird Al Yankovic amongst countless others, either with direct reference or obvious heavy influence, to this day.
Virginia-based band TVLPA have taken this to new levels. When I initially noticed their name of our release list, I wondered if Walk With Me was an obvious reference or just coincidence (at this stage, my brain hadn’t even connected the band name with the show, as glaring as it was). A quick look at the EP released prior to Walk With Me, titled (no prizes for correct guesses) Fire made it pretty obvious that David Lynch and Mark Frost had made quite an impact on this three-piece. The album itself is absolutely littered with Twin Peaks references and interpretations, so much so that to go in to each one would take up the majority of this review, but if you have an interest in the show they’re going to be pretty obvious to you. For now, let’s just focus on the music that TVLPA have poured so much time into.
Album opener “The Water” leaves little time for you to settle in for your listen, the three-piece pummelling your ears from the outset. A mix of dissonance and brute force leads the way, with the double kick of drummer Hunter Johnson providing changing pace to repeated chords. “The Portal, Part. 1” changes things up a little, allowing the intensity to drop for the first half of the track, letting us see the more melodic side of TVLPA. This quieter section works particularly well with the strained vocals, a nice juxtaposition to catch the listener off guard a little. The track then bursts into life for the second half, the frantic pounding from the opening track making a welcome return.
“The Portal, Part 2” is perhaps one of the moments on the album where its inspiration holds the music back a little. It feels much too similar to “The Portal, Part 1” to warrant another seven minutes of the same thing. Instead, a change of feel such as follow-on track “The Woman With No Face” would have been more appreciated, the spoken vocal floating through the majority of track showing a different side to the band’s writing (the handclaps here even get their own Bandcamp credits mention).
“The Dreamer” carries this spoken vocal theme forward initially, before transitioning smoothly back to the screams that accent most of the album. “The Sending” is a great addition to this album, perhaps surprisingly due to the incredibly relaxed and even upbeat nature of the track, but this quiet provides a nice link to the closing run of tracks. “As Above, So Below” follows a similar pattern to previous tracks, but with a more simplified, almost punk-like approach, the drums in particular driving this track to its syncopated false with only a single repeated vocal line before spending a few minutes gently fading to nothing.
This ‘nothingness’ is exactly where “The Lodge” begins and remains for the majority of the track. The crying guitar here begins to give that extra-dimensional feel to the piece, but like earlier, you wonder if it would have been included without the subject matter and if it would be too sorely missed were it absent. “The Lodge” does feature one of my highlights of the album, though, in the beautifully disgusting bass tone that punctuates the latter half, setting up a gripping finale almost perfectly. Closing track “The Sycamore” is arguably the best of the album, a track that includes elements of almost all other tracks, and one that would be ideal to introduce someone new to the band. The inclusion of additional vocalist Rhiannon Lawrence here is a nice touch, providing the listener with a different focus and allowing the core members of the group space to really let loose on this final song.
Walk With Me is an enjoyable listen that will appeal to fans of the dark and heavy, perhaps reaching a wider appeal thanks to the inspiration behind it, and is more than worth the forty-odd minutes it will take you to listen. There is nothing ground-breaking or particularly innovative here, but therein lies some of its charm with its straight-forward approach. As a debut album, TVLPA have managed to showcase their ability to write solid, interesting tracks, and will be able to build on this in future releases.