Review Summary: Nostalgic Indie at its almost-best.
Nostalgia is oftentimes worded into the phrase, “a ring of nostalgia” or “a hint of nostalgia”. Soon after, the rest of the sentence is uttered, and one instantly realizes and relates to this feeling. Whether the memory, the feeling, encompasses a past confidence, insecurity; a past joy or self-satisfaction; even embarrassment, or the lovely sensation of warmth, the feeling is always one that a person can relate to for as long as they have memory. This is where Swoon, the sophomore effort generated by Silversun Pickups comes into play.
“There's No Secrets This Year” begins with a low-pitched noise at the beginning which allows a very talented Brian Aubert to begin a riff in the foreground of said boisterous noise. Somehow, the band achieves the element of coherency, as this section of the song segues perfectly into an upbeat indie jam. The track holds a very perceptible groove that still manages to meld in solos, substance, and originality in the same track. There is no lack of coherency in this track at all; even the very end, which is an unexpected, mystical, melancholy treasure, was obviously planned for in advance.
“The Royal We” is a sublime track which incorporates innumerable amounts of screeching guitar noises and fuzz generated by the aforementioned instrument. The track is very grunge-and-shoegaze-based (especially the latter). Again, this track demonstrates the band's pop sensibilities whilst exemplifying their subtle, yet noticeable nevertheless, originality. Another element, talent, is not lost in the score either. Throughout, this element is evident.
Another shoegaze-based effort is “Growing Old Is Getting Old,” which, besides an above-adequate instrumental build-up and some more fantastical guitar-work, brings very little to the table in comparison to the rest of the album. It however does lead into “It's Nice To Know You Work Alone,” which has an intersting, almost psychedelic intro. The porduction value is rough, and the chords resemble almost "pseudo"-psychedelia. Aubert portrays his vocal range, the band exhibits their signature brand of melancholy indie-rock, again armed with a perceptible groove. This track is mid-tempo and incorporates strings, which only add to the constantly changing vibe given off from this track.
After several other tracks, “Substitution” kicks in, which is the catchiest, most pop-influenced song on the album. “Sort Of” is a shoegaze-pop amalgamation where Aubert has another chance to show his range. The band creates one of the loudest choruses on this song, and it comes out in the end, as one of the album's growers.
"Panic Switch" is a very unfortunate track, actually. And it's quite saddening for me to see it become the album's first single. Firstly, the fuzzy instruments are adequate, however they are overbearing and used in the wrong spots after the opening solo. In fact, this track goes on an aural tumult after said solo. From there on, the song never truly picks up speed, and is entirely too predictable. Almost every other song on this album takes unexpected turns often, but this track is one of the most subdued compared to the rest. The normalcy and sheer predictability would be acceptable if this track was musically proficient and held that perceptible groove, and those hooks that all the other songs on this album have. Sadly these hooks could have been conceived, however, they fail. In example: where Nikki Monniger does contribute her back-up vocals to the chorus of the song, they come across much too quietly in the mix. Some of Silversun Pickups's highlights have been Monniger's vocals (see: Little Lovers So Polite). And not only does the pattern of the song tire, but the potential that it has to be a great track seems to have been thrown away.
And whilst “Catch and Release” is a stable, melancholy track, “Surrounded (Or Spiraling)” is very reminiscent of several works on Carnavas. It ends the album well, but is in no way a stand-out track like, “Substitution”, “Royal We”, or “Sort Of”.
By the end of the album, we realize all of the influences that Silversun Pickups has drawn to produce this effort. Shoegaze-based rock from My Bloody Valentine, grunge-based-indie rock from Smashing Pumpkins, their own gauzy, yet anthemic, sound from Carnavas, and more have all been brought into this album, and along with their own brand of flare, Silversun Pickups has brought us an album full of musical-based nostalgia. And whilst there are negatives in this album, the benefits truly outweigh them. Silversun Pickups subsequently churns out more aural pleasure.