Review Summary: Comparisons to Smashing Pumpkins are inevitable, but the band makes an album that was almost perfect on the first try and maybe makes a 90s revival not too far away.
Back in 1991, a quirky four-piece band from Chicago called Smashing Pumpkins released their debut album, Gish
on an indie label before receiving considerable critical acclaim. They caught the ears of radio listeners everywhere with their fuzzy, layered guitars and Corgan’s whining yet screeching vocal performances. Their melodic, slow-building single Rhinoceros got considerable measures of airplay and the band toured relentlessly before creating their masterpiece Siamese Dream
In 2006, a quirky four-piece band from Los Angeles called Silversun Pickups released their debut album, Carnavas
on an indie label before receiving considerable critical acclaim. They caught the ears of radio listeners everywhere with their fuzzy, layered guitars and Aubert’s whining, low-key vocal performances. Their melodic, slow-building single Lazy Eye got considerable measures of airplay and the band toured relentless before creating their masterpiece ______________.
Notice any similarities?
Strangely similar, huh? The largest difference between the Pumpkins’ rise to fame and the Pickups’ inevitable rise to fame is the fact that this is 2006 and music is much different than it was in 1991. Back in 1991, the grunge movement exploded and the Pumpkins got lumped in with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, etc. Silversun Pickups, on the other hand are going for a full-out 90s revival. Sounding as similar as possible to Smashing Pumpkins while maintaining a considerable amount of unique style, the band gives a heavy does of nostalgia while pushing forward. Kids nowadays seem uninterested in alternative rock, but somehow, the Pickups are getting a large fanbase. Everyone at your high school knows Lazy Eye, somehow. I’m not calling them the saviors of rock, but there’s considerable appeal here for this indie band.
The band clearly patterns their songs off of Pumpkins’ tracks; Lazy Eye opens up with a simplistic but catchy opening riff that is dulled and slowly builds. The band maintains their independence and sound though, as the band has a much dirtier, mellowed-out style courtesy of the fuzzy, distorted riffs and the lead singer Brian Aubert’s dulling vocals, creating the ultimate chill-out album. The album is ultra-melodic, but the album is heavy at times and catchy still. Aubert even pulls out a scream which you wouldn’t expect after listening to the verse of Lazy Eye. Somehow the scream is strangely enjoyable as well. Lazy Eye showcases his screaming voice with style. There’s something oddly enjoyable about the vocal performances on Carnavas.
The album flows together better than most albums released the past 10 years. It's a whole album, not an album of songs that have nothing to do with one another. The songs all strangely tie in together and weave an odd but addicting soundscape that achieves an epic status. There’s no doubt, this is an epic album. There is an aura of greatness, and a bit of immaturity as the band barely misses the mark of making the perfect album on the first try. Over-rating a debut album is deadly, but the Silversun Pickups clearly have the talent to astonish us with a follow-up. That’s why anything less than Siamese Dream for the millennium is a disappointment.
There’s a few tracks that will send you five feet back in your chair on Carnavas, like Well Thought Out Twinkles which implements another addicting, yet simplistic riff and the drummer, Guanlao seeming suspiciously jazz-fusion-esque. Little Lover’s So Polite opens up with a riff that shuns My Bloody Valentine’s noise rock style and turns a track atrociously titled Little Lover’s So Polite into a legitimate catchy rock song. Future Foe Scenarios is an uber-melodic heavier track that is perfectly epic and accessible enough to be the next hit single. The album clearly hinges on the hit single Lazy Eye, though. The song slowly builds on a riff until it explodes and Aubert roars screams above the ever-growing riff. The track eventually blows up into a distortion-fest before it dies again. And, then, Common Reactor ends the album on a high-note with a chorus that showcases Aubert’s superior songwriting skills and the band’s ability to jam better than most bands around today.
Similarities to Smashing Pumpkins aside, the band has the ability to be the next coming of Nirvana. Whether they can do that in future releases is up to the band, but they’ve got the ability. Carnavas seems so almost-perfect, just misstep on the over usage of distortion and a few, well, boring tracks. I miss Alternative/Hard Rock, and it’s nice to see a band bring rock back, kicking and screaming to a new millennium, blasting your eardrums out with each track. It’s time for a 90s revival…music today is much too terrible, and hopefully Silversun Pickups will lead the way to better rock music.