May 14, 2009

Silversun Pickups - Swoon
My Thoughts: Like ()

Silversun Pickups’ new album is probably on my list of most perplexing releases of ’09 so far. I had only listened to their last album and EP once each, and neither of them really struck me, save for the obvious blockbuster “Lazy Eye.” But I had to go back and see if they had sounded the way they do now. The answer I came to is “kind of.”

I needed to do this searching because, on the new album, Silversun Pickups are invoking a great deal of other musicians from an array of genres. It sounds like “Bad” era Michael Jackson got “Bleed America” era Jimmy Eat World with Head from KoRn to cover My Bloody Valentine songs, all produced by Xiu Xiu’s producer. What all that means is that the vocals (very) occasionally sound like MJ, the rhythm and flow to the songs are occasionally comparable to the way Bleed America makes you feel, and the drums sound very much, to me anyway, like the way Xiu Xiu likes their drums. The MBV part is speaking to the idea that it sounds heeeeeavy and distorted. The KoRn part is tricky.

I think, and this is a bold statement, but I stand by it, that Silversun Pickups inadvertently made a N-Metal album. I don’t think their song writing style has changed in any way, I think that they finally had the time and financial backing to make their instruments sound they way they wanted them to, which is really heavy and distorted and blown out, something I would argue is something that they’ve been searching for this whole time. The thing I don’t think they realized was they by doing so, with their current style and leanings toward melodrama, they’re going to sound an awful lot like they might be able to go on tour with bands like KoRn or Evanescence. They got a whole heck of a lot of exposure very quickly off of their one, admittedly, amazing song, and I really don’t think it went to their head. I think it put them in a situation that was all to common in the 1980’s: they all of a sudden had all these resources about them, so they just turned them all on and said “go.”

I say inadvertently, but I might just want to believe that they wouldn’t have done some of these things on purpose. The fact that the song “Growing Old Is Getting Old” is on this album really makes me think that they had good intentions. That’s because GOIGO is a freaking awesome song. It’s this album’s “Lazy Eye,” in more ways than one. It has a similar structure to LE, in that it’s pretty calm most the way through, then near the end it explodes. It would feel tedious if they did it all the time, but I’m a little worried that these are the only type of songs I really like by them. I mean, Pikul was one heck of a promising EP, it really is (I recommend listening to it), but other than they have kind of lost me.

All that said, I feel like Swoon shows a lot of promise, because the songs are really bad songs, but because of my stupid bias against things from the N-Metal era (as guilty as I am for having purchased one or two albums by bands at that time), I can’t see past the similarities to really let the album grasp me. I feel like a lot of people will like it though, because it is a solid album, and I feel that Silversun Pickups will continue to write solid songs, which gives me hope for the future.

Silversun Pickups - Growing Old Is Getting Old
Silversun Pickups - The Royal We (this one is a pretty good example of the things I said above)
Silversun Pickups - Panic Switch


Unknown said...

Love your analysis, Luke. I can definitely see what you mean.
However, I must say that though success has afforded them more freedom and exploration in the studio, they didn't take it nearly as far as AFI did when they signed with Dreamworks for the production-explosion Sing the Sorrow...I like the single & the songs you have feature...perhaps I'll have to get this...

Luke Hunter James-Erickson said...

so right on the AFI thing ... but I actually really dug Sing the Sorrow back in the day :/ haha, who knows what I'd think of it now :)