Silversun Pickups | Neck Of The Woods | Rating: 9/11 | Reviewed by: Kilby Shepard |
Silversun Pickups third full-length release entitled Neck of the Woods(Dangerbird Records) hopefully will bring an end to the Smashing Pumpkins comparisons. Citing the derivative nature of a band and its songs is shortsighted and an easy-out for critics. It comes from the same critics who feel it is a slight to Television if they like a record by The Strokes. Having a sound-alike kinship with the Chicago alt-rock pioneers Smashing Pumpkins brought Silversun Pickups new fans, and now the band seems ready to bring its fans along as they chart their own course across the rock landscape.
Neck of the Woods presents more of what is great about this band – guitar walls, machine gun percussion, room-filling, crescendo-building songs and Nikki Monninger’s bass leads. But the Los Angeles quartet also puts drum machines at the forefront (“Here We Are (Chancer)”) and bouncy synth beats (“The Pit”). On “Busy Bees” lead vocalist Brian Aubert laments, in what will likely be a favorite lyric of 2012, “I heart metal / I heart wine / more so when they’re combined.”
Aubert said on the band’s official website that they wanted to let the songs “breathe” and they didn’t want to “squeeze them down.” That might explain the record’s length, with the shortest song (“The Pit”) clocking in at four minutes 41 seconds and the longest (“Simmer”) at six minutes 51 seconds. The experimentation pays off in “Gun-Shy Sunshine” a melodic somewhat creepy slow crawler and also in the thumping bass line and whirling guitars of “Out of Breath.”
“Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” begins with lone keyboards backed by dreamy ‘oohs’ before leveling out to a song that sounds like the ocean looks Ð give it a listen and you’ll know what I mean. My favorite track is “Mean Spirits,” which moves along at an immediate and frenetic pace, like a song hell-bent on getting to its destination.
Recorded in Topanga Canyon, California Neck of the Woods seems to have absorbed the creative intensity associated with the Southern California region. It is a noticeable step forward for Silversun Pickups and it should build upon the solid rock foundation of Carnavas and Swoon.