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Music Review: Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods

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Last updated May 8 at 7:04 p.m. EST

When it comes to the task of talking about the newest effort from a musician or band, “like” becomes the worst word in a reviewer’s vocabulary. Love it or hate it, it’s easy to write about it. It’s easy to tell someone why you love it or hate it. But to simply “like” the album? Well, that is when the words needed to persuade readers to buy or not to buy come the hardest.

Los Angeles-based Silversun Pickups’ third studio release, Neck of the Woods, hits stores May 8, 2012 and has been streaming through MTV’s Buzzworthy site for a little more than a week prior to the release. A teaser video for the album’s first single, “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings),” hit YouTube March 25, 2012 and as of press time has received nearly 300,000 hits.

The tracks on Neck of the Woods are terrific in that you get what you are expecting from the band, after hearing their first two releases. They are lackluster in that if you put all of the band’s tracks together on your iPod and hit shuffle, you may have a hard time identifying which songs came off of which albums. That is not to say that every album from every band MUST have a unique sound that sets it apart from the rest of the catalog. But in a time when critics are quick to jump on a band for changing their signature sound from one album to the next, I don’t believe that Silversun Pickups have changed enough from Swoon to Neck of the Woods.

The standout track on the album is “Mean Spirits,” shifting gears from the band’s usual brand of ethereal rock and taking on a heavier, more aggressive rock sound, which they continue later in the album with “The Pit.” While “Mean Spirits” drives at a guitar riff that would be comfortable on any hard rock radio station around the country, “The Pit” mixes inspiration from the early 1980s new wave sounds (my instinct is to say specifically from New Order) with their trademark sound. If I were to pick a favorite track on Neck of the Woods, “Mean Spirits” would probably be it, but I am not sure at this point that I am ready to make that commitment.

With lyrics such as “I’ve got one chance to move you,” and “I love to play a sing-a-long,” I’m not 100% sure Brian Aubert and company have achieved either of these. While I enjoy Neck of the Woods and will definitely add it to the rotation, I can’t say that I was “moved” by it or that I would include its tracks in a sing-a-long. The moral of this story is that if you have been a fan of Silversun Pickups’ previous releases, you will not be disappointed by Neck of the Woods, but you may not be replacing old favorites with new favorites either. The album is good. No more, no less.

Neck of the Woods, the third studio release from Silversun Pickups, is available online and in retail stores everywhere May 8, 2012, in mp3, vinyl and CD formats where applicable.

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About D. Gabrielle Jensen

D. Gabrielle Jensen is a writer, cosmetologist and amateur photographer - not always in that order - who wants to live in several major cities, feels most at home in general admission at a small concert venue, and dreams of touring with a band as their private stylist and tour blogger and of honing her photography skills. She has tattoos handwritten by three of her music idols and hopes to continue the collection.
  • James

    I’m bias about the band. I’ll admit that off the bat. I love their sound, their style, everything about them. With that said, I can agree with you on a certain level by saying that, and this applies to almost every one of their songs, it takes a few listens to really grasp what they’re going for. After a few listens, the melodies and hooks pull you in and will NOT let go. When Nikki’s haunting bass line comes in on Here We Are or amazing guitar riffs immediately follow Brian’s high notes, it sincerely gives me chills. Now, If i can only get my girlfriend to put down the “radio pop” and agree with me, lol.

  • I’m going to be reviewing this soon as well, and so far, “Mean Spirits” is my fav from the release. I agree that of the three records, this one has the least amount of favorites, but it’s still a good record and beats out more than 90% of the crap MTV and mainstream rock put out there now. Nice job on the review.

  • What are you talking about

    ethereal electro-folk-pop?

  • Charlie Doherty

    #3: Good point. The article has been updated.

  • Yosh

    Lackluster is the operative word in your review…Gabrielle Jensen, I love your defense that not every album has to have a unique sound! For mass appeal, which it sounds like what they were going for, I think you are right.

    Remember the days when music had something to say?