Artist: Silversun Pickups
Album: Neck of the Woods
When Silversun Pickups started their career with their first full length Carnavas, the comparisons to early Smashing Pumpkins were plentiful, and apt. Frontman Brian Aubert’s voice is at least a cousin to that of the Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan. Sonically, both bands early in their careers reached for the same kind of heights, both bands landing in a hazy, yet exciting atmosphere in which few bands really get to. Unfortunately for the Silversun Pickups, their musical careers are on the verge of becoming a mirror to the Smashing Pumpkins as well. A once relevant band that gets lost in the sea of mediocre bands.
Third album, Neck of the Woods continues the dulling of the fangs, and therefore the bite the band once had. Album opener, ‘Skin Graph’ is a perfect example of masturbation without the payoff. The song slowly builds, but what it is building towards is an anti-climactic chorus that makes you feel like the band is pillow fighting when you are ready for a lead pipe to smack you over the head. Second song ‘Make Believe’ is the sound of a band that lacks conviction. Even the single, ‘Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)’, while it does bathe you in a wall of guitar noise, and has one of the catchier hooks on the album, is pedestrian for a band we know is capable of more.
As the album moves along, the songs continue to plod mostly at five plus minutes a piece, using a slow, hard, slow approach that begins to bore by the time you get ‘Mean Spirits’. ‘Mean Spirits’, actually has some energy, sounding like the first attempt by the Silversun Pickups at grunge in places during the song. Again though, Aubert doesn’t sing it like he means it, and it ends up sounding like mildly perturbed spirits. The most interesting song on the album might actually be ‘The Pit’ which uses an electronic groove, and even if it is decidedly mid-tempo, it actually makes Aubert’s vocals sound like they are at his comfort level here. ‘Dots and Dashes’ continues the mid-tempo foray, and it again, on this particular album seems more effective to me, though nothing substantial enough to prompt a permanent rotation.
By the time album closer, ‘Out of Breath’ arrives on Neck, you actually mercifully hope so, because if the album went on any longer, it would need a respirator. I am not ready to give up on the Silversun Pickups quite yet. Maybe it’s a fondness for my 20’s during the 1990’s and the music that Silversun Pickups reminds me of. Or, maybe I believe that a band responsible for ‘Well Thought Out Twinkles’ has more magic in them. Either way, when the fourth album comes, it’s going to have to be convincing to keep me listening.