David Lynch’s Twin Peaks must be an interesting series to pay tribute to, in a musical sense. It has such an intoxicating atmosphere and array of heady, multi-dimensional themes that it offers a variety of angles to write a song about. I’m sure there have been groups that have written competent songs about Windom Earle, Agent Cooper, or Bob before. A theme is just one thing though; capturing the idiosyncratic atmosphere of Twin Peaks is a whole different ballgame, one that is generally unattainable considering Lynch’s one-of-a-kind atmospheric grasp.
It’s not so much that Twin Peaks tribute project Chrome and the Ice Queen could slide easily into Angelo Badalamenti’s score. It’s obviously perkier and more pop-forward in its delivery than Badalamenti’s brilliantly creeping and ominous compositions. But the project’s lead vocalist and songwriter, Lisa Conway, balances nonchalance and suave lounge-y angelic bliss exceedingly well, sort of like Julee Cruise’s emotively-placed “The World Spins” in the show.
The cohesion between lounge-setting compositions that would fit nicely on the show and more excitable hook-driven material atypical of Twin Peaks is accomplished strategically by Chrome and the Ice Queen, who balance vibrant brass bursts and energetic percussion – more conventional chamber-pop aspects – with stronger Twin Peaks-like components, like the creeping ominous bass or Conway’s occasionally ghostly vocals.
Chrome and the Ice Queen’s Twin Peaks tribute project, Diane, was released back in 2012, but the tracks have recently been making the rounds again. I suppose spoiler warnings are suggested for anyone who hasn’t seen the show, since the first few lines of single “Stealin’ Hearts” reveals a particular dresser-drawer fate. But overall, one can enjoy these tunes without any semblance of knowledge regarding their connection to Twin Peaks. The connections are subtly lyrical more than anything else, apart from the title of brass-led effort “Black Lodge”, which actually sounds like an early Knife track in the vein of “You Take My Breath Away“. There are busts of synthesizer-laden pop like this, for sure, but a lounge-y naturalism runs throughout Diane, a solid release that can be enjoyed regardless of one’s Twin Peaks knowledge.