Feeling like One Severely Intricate Hour-Long Song: Silversun Pickups’ Neck of the Woods

by Charissa Lock

Three years since their last record (Swoon), Silversun Pickups are welcomed back by eager fans and curious bystanders.  Their fourth LP has had quite a respectable reaction.  With their inclusion in many popular summer festivals (Sasquatch Festival, Firefly Fest), as well as hitting number one on iTunes the day after the release, it was quite shocking their album had not been leaked.   For the most part this album keeps its toes dipped in the deeper and slushier side of the pool, though able to keep a calm presence simultaneously.  The latter most likely having to do with their ability to control the atmosphere, as well as Brian Aubert’s relaxed and quiet vocals.

Previous to being barraged with such wonderful tracks, I had always associated Silversun Pickups with their cutesy summer track “Lazy Eye.”  I remember listening to it with the windows down and shades on while driving by full trees donning green leaves.   I would never have imagined the quartet from L.A. coming out with such a heavy and instrumentally pleasing album like Neck of the Woods.  Over the years, they have definitely left their summery pop ideals behind and have focused on the meat of music.   Bands tend to travel the other way (the epic and disastrous Fall out Boy Transition to Death).  Rarely does a band produce a catchy tune sung by soccer moms then 6 years later creates an album that would cause the SUV driving, Coach bag carrying mom of three to immediately change the station to Rihanna’s latest hit (which is awful by the way).  This is one of those moments where Silversun Pickups can look at this and truly be proud of their accomplishment.  Now this is not to say their album is so intense and hardcore only fans of hardcore rock will receive enjoyment.  However, with the focus on louder and heavier instrumentation and composition being so delicately placed and perfected there is a definite separation from “Lazy Eye.”

The eleven tracks on Neck of the Woods have a remarkable connection with one another.  They are in such a way where you find yourself having listened to the whole album and are at the end of “Out of Breath”’s fantastic guitar solos and you feel like you just listened to the most intense and longest song ever.   I’m not sure exactly why, but each song is connected to the others and not in the usual “theme” way, or even because they all just sound alike, but something deeper and not able to be recognized so easily.   You go from the impressive beginnings with “Skin Graph” where air drumming will produce the same effects as P90X, “Make Believe’s” slower and melodic start with an explosive ending through different levels of intricate and complicated keyboards, sound manipulation, guitars, and drums all on this same geometric plane.  The songs are different than one another, but by the time you arrive at “Out of Breath,” you may not remember which song was which but you do know that what you just heard was awesome.

This album will instantly cause you to make a mental note to “see them live.”  The only downfall would be wondering who to keep your eye on during the performance since so much is going on in such a notable way.   The songs off of Neck of the Woods are something you will want to make sure you listen to individually.  Take them apart from the album so that they can all have a chance to impress you on their own.  Silversun Pickups have certainly grown from their earlier days and have clearly established themselves as a respectable alternative rock band.

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TAGS: GoldMoon Put-Me-Downs, Silverelakeness, 41k records and #6 on Billboard this week, MUST-SEE live band