Review - Silversun Pickups - Swoon

'lush, shoe-gazey hooks wear thin on sophomore outing.'

For a band that got it's name from a local Silverlake liquor store, the Silversun Pickups have certainly made a name for themselves, if not only for the 'Young Folks' like catchiness of their prior album's lead single, 'Lazy Eye'.

'He sounds like Kurt Cobain on helium' an old acquaintance and band mate Ben once said of vocalist/lead guitarist Brian Aubert. He was THE first one to really be on to SSPU's. He knew before the LP was even a glimmer, while they were still doing residencies at small, hipster dives in Los Feliz (I actually have a copy of a recording he did of them early on at one of these shows). While we've gone our own ways since then, I will always give credit where it is due.

That said, the anticipation of their sophomore outing was growing while it was still titled 'TBA'. The first radio single 'Panic Switch' is a gem. It appeals to the synthy, lush-pop direction guitar bands have been affording themselves towards in this recent age of alt-rock (is that term as obsolete as indie-rock now?). Swelled, shoe-gaze hooks with the type of fuzz that makes your back itch dominate.

Texturing, filling the space appropriately while also allowing a track to breathe, their strength, also becomes the monotonous nag that pulls at you upon first listen. It tells of a band desperate to achieve maturity in order to bypass the 'curse of the second album'. As a result, one of the most anticipated albums of the Spring from a rising band has it's development arrested, trapped between dramatic synth-cries and string accompaniments which pin the album to earth, deserting the spacial and galactic exploration of Carnavas.

I would like to see another guitarist added to the lineup if only for touring to allow front man Brian Aubert to really be able to play lead without having to worry about rhythm parts.

Because of his vocals and preferred fuzz-tone, you will always hear the Smashing Pumpkins comparisons. While they are there, they are slight. Corgan's voice sucks (this coming from a Pumpkins fan through Mellon Collie..) and all the studio magic the digital age brought couldn't fix it (auto-tune? please no). Aubert actually has a good and distinct voice. A bright point on the album is the mixing which is far superior than any of their prior albums - they've learned how to allow his voice to mix with the guitars and effects to add another weapon to their arsenal without worrying about him being able to cut through the aural wave.

Their albums have continued to grow tiresome with the same fuzz effect used on seemingly every track they've ever recorded and the predictability of the galloping drum patterns need adjustment - instead of carving a niche, the charm has worn.

While the singles that come off of 'Swoon' will no doubt be on every rock station play list, this album only has a limited number of plays before you find yourself listening to their Pikul EP or in my case, The Mountain Goats??

Final rating: 6.3/10
Key tracks: 'Panic Switch', 'There's No Secrets This Year'

Video: 'Common Reactor' (live, from 'Carnavas')