Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Reviews>>Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods (Dangerbird)

After the mass success of their sophomore album Swoon in 2009, which reached number 7 on the Billboard 200 chart, you wouldn’t be surprised if Silversun Pickups decided to stick with what they already had on their new release, Neck of the Woods. However, that couldn’t be more opposite of this album’s intention. Enlisting the help of U2 and R.E.M. producer Jacknife Lee, Silversun Pickups go for a louder and bolder sound on their third LP, which sees them dropping the distortion and fuzz-Pumpkin riffs, progressing onto a darker and brooding atmosphere, which frontman Brian Aubert previously described as sounding “like a horror movie.”

Lead off single “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” may carry the name of a teenage horror movie urban legend, but its melodic synths and cinematic dream pop gives it that scary and unsettling feel, whilst the industrial “Make Believe” shows a different side to their sound. “Here We Are (Chancer)” carries Aubert’s mysterious, ghostly vocals over a mellow drum-machine beat. “Simmer“ is the album’s seven minute prog epic, “The Pit” has 80s synth-pop in the style of Depeche Mode and haunting basslines from Nikki Monninger, “Gun Shy Sunshine” generates jangly riffs and reverb, whilst “Busy Bees” is Ok Computer territory Radiohead. The gothic “Mean Spirits” is their most Pumpkin-esque track on the album, an amalgam of arena-heavy wall of sound guitars and powerful drumming courtesy of Christopher Guanlao. Final track “Out of Breath” is pretty much usual Pickups territory with its driving atmospheric guitars and robotic drum work.

If Silversun Pickups have long been compared to 90s alt-rock legends My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins, then Neck of the Woods shows that they have moved into a new direction, following M83 into incorporating electronica into their sound. It is a beautiful flow of trancelike electronica, that shows the quartet are unafraid of trying something new with their sound and are able to tackle a variety of styles successfully.


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