Review Summary: An impressive record from an impressive up and coming band.
In the past, when ever I've listened to Silversun Pickups, I've always gotten the impression that I've heard a vaguely similar sound before. This isn't so much a negative observation as it is a curious one. Critics have often likened the band to Smashing Pumpkins and, to a lesser degree, My Bloody Valentine; though such comparisons are certainly appropriate, Carnavas
never came off as Siamese Dream
-worship. Rather, it simply explored early 90s alt rock and shoegaze themes and applied it in a manner that was relevant to an alternative band in 2006. Predictably, the results were fantastic, with tracks like "Rusted Wheel" and "Lazy Eye" among the strongest songs of the year.
, Silversun Pickups continues to explore their 90s rock sound, while further embracing their pop sensibilities. If some of the shoegaze elements have been toned down, the band hasn't exactly softened up. Vocalist/guitarist Brian Aubert summed up Swoon
aptly, stating that "[while] some songs are very quiet and delicate, others are just ***ing loud". Aubert's guitar crunch is a staple throughout the album; first single "Panic Switch", one of the most aggressive songs Silversun Pickups has written thus far, is especially characterized by Aubert's heavy usage of distortion. Songs like "It's Nice to Know You Work Alone" and "Sort Of" also utilize guitar rock elements, albeit not quite as liberally. Unlike "Panic Switch", Aubert's guitar tracks aren't so much the centrepiece of the song as they focus more on accentuating pop hooks and melodies. It makes for an effective change in pace, diversifying the record and maintaining a distinct atmosphere that makes "There's No Secrets This Year" and "Panic Switch" so absorbing.
's softer songs take a little more getting used to. Lacking the infectious enthusiasm of a "Panic Switch" (which, impressively enough, was added to the album as "an afterthought"), a song like "Draining" just isn't as much fun to listen to as the former. But the likes of "Draining" and "Catch and Release" offer listeners a more earnest sounding Silversun Pickups. Between the sparkling guitar of "Growing Old Is Getting Old", the grooves of "Catch and Release", and the heavy usage of a sixteen piece orchestra in "Draining", Silversun Pickups' more intimate material is unquestionably warmer than the heavy rockers, more than making up for the lack of energy. "The Royal We" maintains a similar build, with an additional sense of heaviness. The soft/heavy, strings/distorted guitar dynamics work extremely well, and though the song isn't one of the catchier pieces available on Swoon
, its rising crescendo of sound is one of the most memorable moments on the album.
But most of all, what makes Swoon
such an enjoyable album to listen to is its youthful exuberance. Though Silversun Pickups tackle the 'difficult second album' in a relatively serious manner, Swoon
's prevailing mood is nonchalant and confident. Every song flows quite naturally, and in spite of the sometimes grandiose structuring of a "Panic Switch", "There's No Secrets This Year", or "The Royal We", the album is down to earth and fun to listen to. All things considered, Swoon
is an impressive record from an impressive up and coming band. It's intimate, accessible, and – Pumpkins comparisons aside – fairly unique in today's scene. What more could one ask for?