After a request to review a newer band, I decided on the perfect album to review. This album was released in 2012, and was made by a band that I feel has grown in popularity ever since their first album. This band is considered a favorite amongst several of my friends. The band I am referring to is Silversun Pickups.
Silversun Pickups is a quartet from Los Angeles, featuring lead singer/guitarist Brian Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger. Aubert’s eccentric nature is not only seen on stage and in interviews, but felt on each record. It’s sad for me to say that I did not learn of this band until I played the game “Rock Band” in high school. Being in a constant search for good music, I was amazed to hear such an awesome song on a video game, being their single “Lazy Eye” of their album “Carnavas.” I immediately searched for them and bought their album when I returned home. That was several years ago, and two albums and one EP later, they have sold hundreds of thousands of records. Today, I will be reviewing their latest album “Neck of the Woods.”
I must admit this: When I first listened to this album, I didn’t like it. (gasp!) As much as I love Silversun Pickups and their earlier work, my first listen to the album wasn’t a positive experience. I was wondering where the overdriven guitar went, where the upbeat lyrics went, and where the drum machine came from. I was thinking Silversun Pickups had went the way of the current radio-friendly trend, being beat driven, more electronic, and less grit. I was sad at first, but several listens later, I started to understand the creative direction.
By taking a simpler approach to their music, Silversun Pickups is able to reach out to a broader fan base. Keeping with the same genre of indie rock and grunge rock that was so popular in the 90’s (like the band The Smashing Pumpkins), “Neck of the Woods” delves deeper into genres like shoegaze (like the bands The Verve and My Bloody Valentine) and dream pop (like the bands The Flaming Lips and Elbow). Songs like “Here We Are (Chancer)” and “The Pit” take on a revised style of rock, while songs like “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” and “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” keep longstanding fans happy. I believe Aubert’s lyrics are at his best in this album, as he relies on the theme of nostalgia and introspection, an experience that everyone is familiar with from time to time. Because of this theme, I feel the change in sound is necessary. The simplification of guitar and percussion, along with the darker lyrics, brings more of that feeling of nostalgia.
Even though I have mainly talked about Brian Aubert, this is in no way “Brian Aubert’s band”. I encourage, no, plead for anyone reading this article to see Silversun Pickups live! I have seen them twice, their second time being in my “Top 5 Greatest Concerts I’ve Ever Seen” list. Each member of the band plays a vital role in each song, and the stage performance is phenomenal. The second time I saw them was at Soma San Diego, and was filled with an array of colors, lights, and sounds. Please see this band live; I guarantee it will make your own “Greatest Concerts I’ve Ever Seen” list.
I urge everyone to see this up-and-coming, if not, already arrived rock band. If you are a fan of 90’s grunge, shoegaze, dream pop, and indie music, I guarantee you’ll fall in love with “Neck of the Woods.”
Check out their single off their new album “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)”: