From Los Angeles rockers, Silversun Pickups comes Swoon, a purely alternative follow-up to their 2006 release Carnavas. This record runs long, most songs reaching past the four-minute mark, and although most critics agree that it’s a decent sophomoric attempt, they also agree a certain intensity is unfortunately absent from the record.
Without giving too much away, Rolling Stone wrote, “[this] band still has some growing to do, but it knows how to have fun with fuzz and where to find the beauty in noise.” I would argue that growth is a given, especially for a young band in today’s industry; without forward movement even the best of them fade into the background. With Swoon, however, the evolution is audible.
Silversun Pickups’ first record was constructed around a mellower, almost overly emotional sound that has been roughed up and built upon on Swoon. Although the Smashing Pumpkins influences are still quite audible, the added edge of Swoon alone proves this band is anything but a one-trick-pony. The LA Times elaborated on SSP’s evolution saying Swoon, “chose not to go bigger but deeper…[and] the band keeps careful control over it’s humming, hissing distortion effects.” The times goes on to compare the SSP’s to Fleetwod Mac guitarist and songwriter Lindsey Buckingham saying Swoon,
“suggests a more apropos reference in late-70’s Lindsey Buckingham…challenging fans with subversive new rhythms and ideas with the otherwise comfortable pop package…the Silversun Pickups just do it louder.”
The originality is there, separating Silversun Pickups from the barrage of wanna-bee rock bands that just can’t get it together. Swoon is fun, and easy to listen to, and that’s more than can be said about half the music on the TOP 40 charts right now. SputnikMusic.com wrote, “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.”
The overall feel of Swoon is definitely confident, but Blender.com makes another observation, writing, “SSPU salute misery as a kind of ideal, the opposite of love, but just as beautiful.” The heavier emotions that come through on Swoon are present in the opener, “There’s No Secrets This Year” and subsequent tracks such as “Draining” and the brooding “Catch and Release.” And while singer Brian Aubert’s delicate tenor is a bit out of place next to layers of guitars, the Silversun Pickups manage to make it work more often than not.
“Swoon ultimately delivers the exact same results as its predecessor mostly because it’s written in nearly the exact same way. The problem all along for the Silversun Pickups isn’t that they sound too much like the Smashing Pumpkins. They just sound way too much like themselves”
While I would argue that Swoon displays just enough growth to differentiate it from previous releases, SlantMagazine.com trased the record writing, “the Pickups have released an album with only two or three tracks to justify its existence” and goes on to write, “
“Brian Aubert’s unaccomplished vocals are another liability. His androgynous tenor sounds consistently strained, and though he clearly wants to write anthems, he lacks the range to deliver a compelling hook.”
SlantMagazine.com goes on to write,
“even [Swoon’s] best tracks tempt one’s finger toward the skip button, and the truly aimless fair that makes up the majority of the record will try the patience of even those listeners sympathetic to the band’s sound.”
Fortunately the bashing stops there. Silversun Pickups may not be on the top of everyone’s Top 10 list, but the fact of the matter is that, with Swoon, the band has created a worthwhile follow-up to their 2006 debut. Critics may not be able to see past Aubert’s softer tenor, or the layers of embellishments of Swoon, but the substance is there. Swoon is a thoughtful compilation of alternative rock tracks with an indie-edge that has Silversun Pickups written all over it. It’s the perfect sophomore record for a young band from Los Angeles, CA and only time will tell how far it will take them.