Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods
Record Label: Dangerbird Records
Release Date: May 8th 2012
Third album from Los Angeles’ own Silversun Pickups, Neck of the Woods, is quite an interesting follow-up to 2009’s release Swoon. The band hasn’t travelled far from their biggest hit Lazy Eye to their latest single Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings) but a change is definitely evident in the music. Though the band has stayed quite cemented to their shoegaze shoes, they added some electronic elements to their repertoire for their latest album. Also a slight change in the vocals catches the attention to any avid fan of this particular band.
This album seems to draw inspiration from past bands like Depeche Mode and follows in the foot trails of contemporary works such as atmospheric rockers M83. The electronic build-up beside Monninger’s vocals on Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings) brings to mind the electronic workings of M83’s latest release while the synthesizers used in The Pit and Dots and Dashes (Enough Already) definitely sound like they were a Depeche Mode brain child. This follows a rising trend of an 80s and 90s revival in music recently.
The band also drew inspiration from film, saying that this latest release was inspired by horror movies. This is quite obvious from some of the song-titles on the album like Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings), Skin Graph and Mean Spirits. However, once I gave the album a listen it took some time to catch their interpretation of the horror movie theme. The album from my perspective focussed on the eerie ambiance just before a fright and the chase scenes of horror films. The album has a quality that makes it seem like you are really searching through a dark house and about to find something just around the corner. I’m not sure if the album was meant to be conceptual but it definitely has the legs to try starting with a cut like Skin Graph and ending exhausted and Out of Breath.
What I am most impressed to see on this album was the use of vocals. I was glad to see a glimpse of Monninger’s vocal potential and I hope that future projects might see a further utilization of her vocals in the forefront something that lacked on this particular release. Another change, noted in this album, is in Aubert’s vocal range to a higher register. Aubert’s androgynous vocals and strange lyrical workings have always been an integral piece of the band’s foundation but this higher vocal performance added that bit of eeriness that complemented the instrument tracks they had laid down.
My only critique of the album is that it is lengthy. This may prove to be a hard listen for most casual listeners as the rough median of song run-time is five minutes per song. However, that is the nature of shoegaze. It looks to create an atmosphere through droning guitars and synthesizers so what you gain in time you also gain in atmosphere. Unfortunate, because the band has such an interesting sound and continues to experiment without falling too far from the apple tree.
Although the album is not a huge step away from their previous work fans will find solace in another quality album from the Silversun Pickups. Hopefully the next work we hear from the band will show us further experimentation. For those who were looking for a completely new sound from the band, I believe this album will be a letdown. However, if a solid Silversun Pickups album is what you are looking to get than this is it.
If you’re looking to see the band live then make your way to Downsview Park July 14th where they’ll be performing at Edgefest alongside acts like Death from Above 1979 and U.S.S.
Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods: 3.3/5