Silversun Pickups – Better Nature Review

Silversun Pickups are a four-piece alternative rock band from Los Angeles that formed in 2002. The band released their first full EP, Pikul, in July 2005 followed by their debut album, Carnaves, in July 2006. Following on from the success of their first debut album the band released their second album, Swoon, in April 2009 and their third, Neck of the Woods, in May 2012. Their latest and fourth full-length album, Better Nature, was released on September 25th 2015. The bands sound often encompasses multiple overdubs of distorted guitars alongside electronic elements and have often been compared to bands such as My Bloody Valentine and Smashing Pumpkins.

Its been almost a decade since the first album release and Silversun Pickups are still doing their thing, bassist Nikki Monninger continues to chime in just enough to make us realize she’s being woefully underutilized and Brian Aubert’s androgynous voice still conjures up comparisons to Billy Corgan. The album is a hybrid of traditional indie sounds fused with electronic and synth based sounds, smooth vocals and overdubbed, distorted guitars. Tracks such as the opener ‘Cradle (Better Nature)’ and the second ‘Connection’ begin the album with a bang, a relentless energy that gives no time for the listener to settle in. Atmospheric sounds mix with fast, clinically sounding drum beats giving an incite into the expectations of the album. As a whole the album works, creating distinctive melodies and hooks that will stick in the listener’s memory, Aubert’s interplay with Monniger lending a certain dynamic energy, particularly in tracks such as ‘Circadian Rhythms (Last Dance)’ and ‘Tape Deck’. Tracks such as ‘Friendly Fires’ slow the pace, if only for a short while, whilst incorporating deep atmospherics accompanied by Aubert’s outstanding vocals. The deep soundscapes provide a fitting platform for the slower pace that the song garners, allowing Aubert to show off his own vocal talents. Songs such as ‘Nightlight’ offer a more traditional indie sound, pushing back the synths and bringing the deep distorted guitars and big drums to the front. The standout tracks from the album are definitely ‘Circadian Rhythms (Last Dance)’ allowing Monniger to show off her exceptional vocal prowess, something which is criminally underused and ‘Tape Deck’ with its deep atmospheric synths and tight bouncing drums.

Overall the album is a good mix of traditional indie characteristics and more experimental electronic sounds that offer up great atmospheric soundscapes. The only downside is that Monniger’s vocals aren’t used more, like a tsunami they hit the listener with force bringing a new dimension to the whole album, unfortunately they are used sparsely. This aside, the album offers a nice mix of rock and electronic sounds that make it well worth a listen.

Silversun Pickups – Better Nature = 8/10

Matthew Kay

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