Silversun Pickups - Swoon (Cover Artwork)

Silversun Pickups

Silversun Pickups: SwoonSwoon (2009)
Dangerbird Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

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

Usually when a band repeats itself on an album, it admits to creative bankruptcy. When Silversun Pickups do it, they're exploring their sound's borders. Part-amorphous/androgynous shoegaze by way of Autolux or Ride, part-triumphant guitar rock circa Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups effectively r.
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Usually when a band repeats itself on an album, it admits to creative bankruptcy. When Silversun Pickups do it, they're exploring their sound's borders. Part-amorphous/androgynous shoegaze by way of Autolux or Ride, part-triumphant guitar rock circa Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups effectively remade their 2006 sleeper hit Carnavas and called it this year's Swoon. Guitarist Brian Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger still trade ethereal, interchangeable vocals. Drummer Chris Guanlao still pounds out monotonous drum beats, adding some psychedelic stomp to the songs' drone. And keyboardist Joe Lester is still the band's secret centerpiece, filling in gaps in guitar work with ambient lines. Though Swoon never provides anything as immediate and touching as Carnavas' big hit "Lazy Eye," it does offer 10 more reasons to love the band's ambient alternative rock. This time with strings! A style this good bears repeating.

The record opens with "There's No Secrets This Year," its second single and arguably most assured track. Shoegaze usually succeeds more based on what the listener can't hear than what he and/or she does hear, but Swoon's cleaner vocal takes mean everyone can join in when Aubert hits the thrilling chorus of "I'll tell you a secret / I'll make it perfectly clear / There's no secrets this year." Given the band's upcoming festival itinerary, it feels like a statement of purpose, a welcome sign to fans from all four corners.

There are moments when that cleaner recording style works against Swoon, though, like when Aubert's lyrics aren't particularly invigorating. Lines like "How many times do you wanna die? / How many ways do you wanna die?", from "The Royal We," come off too melodramatic and clunky, and the instrumentation sounds overcompressed in spots as well. A thicker fog of audio haze could've saved the song, but "The Royal We" rocks well enough to compensate on its own terms. A string section adds a second layer of squall in ways Pikul never thought about.

Other songs are easy to love unconditionally. "Growing Old Is Getting Old" slowly, epically builds from a quiet bassline to a roaring cascade of drums and guitar. Aubert and Monninger beautifully trade vocals back and forth on "It's Nice to Know You Work Alone." It's not necessarily about what each individual part sounds like but where they all dreamily meet. Swoon puts a lot of work, successfully, into its ambience, but those looking for a little more stomp like "Secrets" finally get paid off with "Substitution" and "Surrounded (Or Spiraling)."

The two biggest slags against Silversun Pickups are usually the lyrics and the Pumpkins connection, which is funny given that Billy Corgan took plenty of grief for his own word choices. Swoon isn't going to sway many away from those accusations, although it doesn't embarrass itself too much lyrically and certainly beats everything Corgan has done post-MACHINA. For those already in the know, though, relax -- Swoon is a worthy followup to Carnavas. If the cliché about sophomore albums being cleaned-up repeats of debuts is true, imagine what the Pickups' challenging third LP will sound like.


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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.
slymer (June 11, 2009)

Sounds exactly the same as the first album, which was pretty darn good. At least they didn't try and go in some wacky new direction.

thornsoflife (May 25, 2009)

Most bland, boring album I have heard all year, was very disappointing because their previous album canvas was actually decent.

Archangel (May 11, 2009)

I finished the second sentence and realized that if I read the whole review, I'd strain my eyeballs and wrist from rolling my eyes and doing the jerk off motion.

flowerfeeder (May 11, 2009)

I can believe it is possible that this dude isn't a Pumpkins fan. There were many other bands during that 90s era that had this same style, but were much more interesting like Feeder, Hum, Failure, etc.

drbino (May 10, 2009)

The more i listen to this album the more unappealing it becomes. They shoulda called themselves silversun pumpkins.

colin (May 9, 2009)

i liked this better when it was titled siamese dream.

still fun.

sugarfull (May 8, 2009)

Is this band named after a type of musical equipment?

scorpiondeathlock (May 8, 2009)

i met this dude at a show and talked to him for like 10 minutes. i told him i liked his band and they reminded me of old smashing pumpkins and he got pissed and was like "im so sick of everyone saying that, i fucking hate smashing pumpkins".

what a fucking liar, judging by this bands last two albums there is no way in hell this guy's all time favorite band is not smashing pumpkins.

as far as the music goes its pretty solid, but this cd has the same problem as the last, every single song is 2 minutes too long.

wyzo (May 8, 2009)

i like this band's general oomph, yet I hate smashing pumpkins, always have, and don't get the comparison. I hate reading the pumpkins name in every review or article on this band. Billy Corgan is always going to be more annoying, and the pumpkins more a drug addicted 90s throwback than any other band today.

Anyway, I like the single from this record, haven't listened to it attentively yet.

ConsumedByMusic (May 8, 2009)

I hate the radio. Not to keen on the latest single so that's holding me back from checking the rest out. Loved the last CD though.

spacemanspliff (May 8, 2009)

Great band, great album. I have nothing but respect for these guys. The Pumpkins nostalgia feeling is pretty fun too.

Problematiclogic (May 8, 2009)

ugh...i can't get into this yet.

really loved their debut though.

leecorsoisapenis (May 8, 2009)

It's official, this band is very good.

Aymor (May 8, 2009)

this record is good. especially the first song. the effects of the guitars and drums make the album sound like "Siamese Dream"

Blackjaw_X (May 8, 2009)

It sounds like they put this entire thing through an effect that makes it all distorted. It's just a more distorted version of their last effort, even the vocals... they sound like he sung the same but just put an effect on them. Hard to explain. I'm high.

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