Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods (Cover Artwork)

Silversun Pickups

Silversun Pickups: Neck of the WoodsNeck of the Woods (2012)
Dangerbird Records

Reviewer Rating: 2

Contributed by: JeloneJelone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The members of Silversun Pickups are '90s revivalists, and all that alt-rock love has paid off. By combining Smashing Pumpkins' grandiosity with My Bloody Valentine's haze, SSPU has steadily risen through the indie ranks. Which is why the band's decision to go the "difficult third album" route with .
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The members of Silversun Pickups are '90s revivalists, and all that alt-rock love has paid off. By combining Smashing Pumpkins' grandiosity with My Bloody Valentine's haze, SSPU has steadily risen through the indie ranks. Which is why the band's decision to go the "difficult third album" route with Neck of the Woods might make or break the group. As you've probably deduced from the above score, I'm not feeling too good on those odds.

The Pickups broke through on the strength of the single "Lazy Eye," but it helped that the band's debut full-length, Carnavas, was packed with songs that could have easily been that hit. Swoon was a stylistic victory lap; bigger and louder and almost as fun. Neck goes the opposite route. It's cleaner, more electronic, more droning, more percussion-drivenā?¦ and still just a tad disappointing.

Shaking up their sound was definitely the right idea, as I'm not sure who many more times the Pickups could've gotten away with rewriting Carnavas. The problem is that the band can't quite figure out how to grow from there. SSPU has always operated within a clearly defined style. By downplaying guitars, shoegaze and pop hooks--things they're good at--the members essentially threw out what fans liked and failed to rotate in anything worthwhile. Neck is great in theory (like communism!), but all those meandering passages and hookless choruses kind of pile up after a while.

Worse, they highlight the band's other deficiencies. As much as I love their first two records, even I have to admit that the Pickups' lyrics have never exactly been revelatory. While frontman Brian Aubert gets in a couple good lines here and there (The way he sings "All I think about is why / The skin I'm in feels ordinary," from "Skin Graph," is spine-tingling), the bulk of his lyrics are forgettable at best, embarrassing at worst. I love the hook to "Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)," but got-damn is that chorus dumb.

That's not to say the record is lacking in highlights. I'm not sure how this material will work in the band's live set, but tracks like "Bloody Mary," "The Pit" and opener "Skin Graph" are catchy, slightly techno-tinged ditties. Oddly enough, the band sounds better the more it approaches Depeche Mode's synth-pop stylings. A couple of tracks honor the band's old sound ("Skin Graph," "Mean Spirits"), but generally speaking, the rest of the material is too midtempo and defanged to satisfy anyone.

Still, it's cool in a way that the band took a chance here. It didn't exactly pay off, but that's what difficult third albums sometimes do. I just hope Silversun Pickups don't end up like another '90s shoegaze band, Ride: Two great albums, followed by a string of disappointments.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Problematiclogic (May 11, 2012)

I agree with pretty much everything that's been said here unfortunately. Whereas Carnavas has some breathtaking moments, this one just bores me very quickly.

Piata (May 11, 2012)

I only listened to it once but I can't say I find it terribly disappointing. I'd almost consider it a step up from Swoon which had some great songs but was otherwise thick with filler BUT I need to listen to it a few more times to make a final judgment.

Blackjaw_ (May 11, 2012)

Sadly, this is easily their worst release. There's only one or two (if any) songs as good as any songs on their old albums. The drumming's still there, but the lyrics aren't good at all, the guitar riffs are gone* and he uses his wonderful shouty voice a lot less. It's still a good album because it'd be hard for such a great band to put out a "bad" album. I'm not going to ignore it, but it'll probably only get 1/4 as many plays as the others.

*Why couldn't they do synth AND awesome guitar work?

shenaniganss (May 11, 2012)

Ah damn, and I was looking forward to this. The single they've been throwing around from this album is pretty catchy, albeit forgetful. I'll listen to it tomorrow, but it's going to break my heart if it's not even half as good as Swoon.

aubin (May 11, 2012)

Yeah, I have to agree with the review; I'm glad they're trying to experiment but I can't say that I'm happy with how it turned out.

renaldo69 (May 11, 2012)

a tad disappointing..and you gave them 2/5?

hmm...interesting. I admit that it was not awesome like Carnavas or Pikul...but it was better than Swoon.

I really liked this album...there were much more 'slow' songs i found...but the band did well technically...i loved the bass and drums a lot on most tracks...

9/10 to me...i hope they do proper singles...

they can garner the hype like they did with lazy eye but not releasing 'three seed' or 'future foe scenarios' was a big mistake

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