Release Date: May 8, 2012
Record label: Dangerbird Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Post-Grunge
On their two previous discs, this L.A. band tapped into the shoegaze majesty of peak Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine. There's a little more digital burble coursing underneath the guitar haze this time out. Dance beats undergird the Pumpkins power-pop of "Gun-Shy Sunshine" and "Busy Bees," while songs like "The Pit" recall the sheer, synthed-up alt-rock Garbage made big in the Nineties.
It’s 2012. Let’s not go down the road of determining whether or not Silversun Pickups sounds like or doesn’t sound like Smashing Pumpkins (they do, and it’s okay). Let’s instead talk about why Neck of the Woods is the best mainstream rock album of the year. Granted, there’s not a whole lot of real competition out there in the category, given the sheer dominance that reductive butt-rock has in the genre.
Silversun Pickups had a bit of a breakthrough with 2009's Swoon. Moody and fuzzed-out singles like "Substitution" and "Panic Switch" drew new listeners to the band's particular brand of melodic and rhythmically infectious guitar-based rock. They even garnered a Best New Artist nod at the Grammy Awards despite having already developed a cult following after debuting with their 2005 EP, Pikul.
If the cover image on Silversun Pickups' new album seems alluringly Hitchcockian, leave the lights on when you give the record a spin. The L.A. band has never been a Prozac popper, but the 11 tracks on Neck of the Woods takes moody to a whole other psychological level—one that moves beyond science to a technological outsmarting. .
Review Summary: What it loses in instinctive beauty, it almost makes up for in depth. As brilliant records go, let's call Silversun Pickups' Swoon something of an accident - by which I mean that its intoxicating nature owed little to minuscule artistic decisions and almost everything to the conditions that set it up. Carried away by waves of wrenching melody, and an aesthetic that begged us to abandon everything outside its wall of sound, Swoon conjured the image of a band settling into a beautifully sweet groove and just allowing gorgeous choruses to spill out in their numbers.
Los Angeleno indie rockers Silversun Pickups are not the Smashing Pumpkins incarnate, and it sometimes feels like they’ll be spending the rest of their careers gamely trying to prove it. An overwhelming noisewash of guitar distortion surged beneath lead singer Brian Aubert’s anxious, brittle vocals on the band’s 2006 full-length debut Carnavas and especially on its 2009 sophomore effort, Swoon. This purposeful alchemy amounted to a brazen voodoo summons of the faded spirits of Billy Corgan’s pre-bald-pated-superstardom creative peak of the early ‘90s, specifically Gish and Siamese Dream.
Let’s start with a quiz. Q. When did you first meet the Silversun Pickups?. a) Ah, not too long ago – somewhere between now and Swoon. We’re just getting to know each other. b) Ages, eons, forever and ever, I’ve been with them from the start, man, I am a TrueFan™ of the Silversun Pickups.
On my local alt-rock station, Silversun Pickups' 2006 single "Lazy Eye" has rightfully become a playlist staple, and not just because the song fits comfortably alongside the repertoire of certain first-generation Lollapalooza veterans known for inflicting violence on large orange fruit. Though it lacks an actual chorus, "Lazy Eye" still packs a considerable emotional charge, thanks to the creeping tension between the song's cool precision and frontman Brian Aubert's efforts to destabilize it, through arrhythmic guitar scraping and an increasingly agitated vocal. Though the song's tone is subdued and serious, I always smirk during Aubert's climactic shriek of the line "everyone's so focused clearly on...
Maybe it was the hair, or the sales, or the name, or the record sleeves, or the Rock Band inclusion, or the squirmy, white-knuckle romantics of scruffy frontman Brian Aubert, but Silversun Pickups have become the go-to whipping-boy for anyone still gunning down 2006-wave. It takes a certain combination of gravitas and ignorance to slag off any notion of subtlety (or pride) and shout lines like, “Everyone's so intimately rearranged, everyone can focus clearly with such shine” right in the world’s ears, but that’s who these four Angelinos were. Nothing represented the zeitgeist around Deschanel-indie quite like Carnavas.
Silversun Pickups frontman Brian Aubert has compared the band’s latest album, Neck of the Woods, to a horror movie. The record’s atmosphere is certainly dark and moody, even if that’s not necessarily new ground for the group, and Aubert and Co. show a new found fascination with ghost stories and the frailty of the human body, making it the lyrical equivalent of an early film by David Cronenberg or John Carpenter.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that - opening track and storming singles aside - the second Silversun Pickups album, ‘Swoon’ failed to match the brilliance of their debut ‘Carnavas’. The band’s conceit is a simple one, and perhaps they simply found it difficult to build upon the template of fuzzy Pumpkins-derived alt rock shot through with post-rock and shoegaze. Though perhaps it’s been rather a while in the making, ‘Neck Of The Woods’ at least feels like a solid progression, even if it’s not going to thrill any critics with its originality.
According to a recent interview given by Silversun Pickup frontman Brian Aubert, it was the singer’s Topanga Canyon upbringing that informed much of the material presented on the indie rock band’s third LP, Neck of the Woods. Anyone who’s ever returned to their childhood neighborhood as an adult after a lengthy sabbatical knows full well that unexpectedly intense emotions cam sometimes surface. In the case of this Southern California foursome, a recent pass through Aubert’s stomping grounds just outside ofLos Angeles provided the catalyst for some heady introspection and reflection.