IN their own words, the second album by Melbourne collective Peak Twins is a “combination of songs old and new”. But it’s a bit more than that.
Pieced together over a couple years with producer Jack Farley, Beloved builds on the distinctive blueprint laid out on their 2013 self-titled debut with lush instrumentation and flourishes of strings.
“Our aim for the album sound was classic pop,” the band says, “with string arrangements and lead instruments punctuating the simple songs.”
Ahead of their album launch on August 24 at Melbourne’s The Curtin, the band illuminates the stories behind the album’s eight tracks.
This song is a nod to Ennio Morricone – it’s grand and it sets the scene. The call and response melodies really work in a different way to our other songs. It’s more of a composition than a song – it’s our drummer [James] Mannix working in a different mode – bringing the different sounds to the party that make this album the rich tapestry of textures that it is. He also did the whistling.
This one was written by Joel [Carey], Mannix and Patrick [Telfer]. It sounds like Coldplay. Lyrics were written in a functional way; it’s always about what fits – cycling through a rolodex of sentiments until it sounds right. “It’s not always what you’re thinking when you see the vision begin,” The vision is something ominous, akin to anxiety. It’s not what you think – it’s not that bad and it’s not good either. That’s what we were trying to convey: a sense rather than an image. This is the title track and maybe our favourite song.
One evening Mannix was showing Joel some demos he had recorded. He played the bare bones of this song but most of the lyrics and melody were there. Joel came in later and wrote the chorus part. The idea for the weird bit at the start came from Jack [Farley, producer], via the Richard and Linda Thompson song ‘The Calvary Cross’. That’s one of the many things that a producer like Jack can do for you. Mannix wrote these lyrics and they’re a rebuke of sorts. Not everything is about you and nothing is really that bad. For ‘Water’, ‘Beloved’ and ‘Heaven Knows’ we knew we needed “string arrangements” to weave around the words like the ’60s would have wanted. Our friend Tom Spall was over from Adelaide and we layered a violin until it sounded dramatic.
‘Like A Wave’
“Took a gulp from the water he gave and the mouth full of vinegar was sour to taste.” Mannix bought vinegar from a supermarket thinking it was water and gave it to Liam because the label was unreadable. It didn’t taste good. This song’s structure is A, B, C, no going back, like Roy Orbison would have done. We got our friends to sing back-up vocals and then we buried them low in the mix. There can be no ego in collaboration. The verses of this song are where most of the action happens, and you can hear us attempting to channel the Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Joel played drums on this one.
This was an attempt to do a Traveling Wilburys-type folksy number. When we play it live it kind of sounds more like that maybe but on the record this song is strange. We tried a few snare sounds and made ourselves upset. We tried to get the right tempo and we kind of never did. Each mix was weirder than the last. If the end result works, that’s because it was sped up, which Jack somehow managed to do without changing the pitch. Don’t ask us.
‘Your Love Part 1’
Liam wrote this one, about 10 years ago. You cannot put an expiration date on this shit. It’s a love song and it’s partnered with our earlier song called ‘Your Love’ from the Scott and Charlene’s Wedding split. The album recording is gentle and tender, with some very tasteful brushes from Mannix, and close-up vocals from Joel and sister Ellen Carey. To play along at home, go D, Bm, G, A in the verses, and D, A, D, G, D, Bm, A in the choruses. The guitar solo here took about five thousand takes and it was worth it.
‘The Less You Are’
This is a gloomy number written by Joel, Mannix and Patrick that we wanted to be a more uncomfortable moment on the album. Jack comes through as a producer again with the weird scratchy synth noises. This was another Mannix demo that was inspired by working fruit and veg in Northcote – he was singing “valen-ciaaaa” to the oranges. The song barely moves but it changes a lot – it’s a simple vamp that we made into a song. Repetition in the music. Ela Stiles sung the operatic harmonies that float above. They blew us away when they were performed and really tie the room together.
Another song written by Liam a long time ago and made much more interesting in this version by Jack’s production. Rumbling bass and synthesised noise give this a submerged feel. There’s a water theme running through the album. It came about accidentally but in hindsight, why not? What can you really say about an element like water. Water is life and death. The harmonies and chords in the last seconds of this song are a call back to the earliest Peak Twins recordings. Committed fans will recognise this final act as a gesture to and consolidation of the past. Thank you!