Three years after Neck of the Woods, Silversun Pickups bring in the deep and rhythmic new album Better Nature.
The term alternative gets thrown around a lot but rarely are people able to define just what genre of music it is. It used to be that the styles of Nirvana and Soundgarden were once alternative but when THAT became the biggest thing in the world, it wasn’t an alternative to anything.
In my opinion, I label alternative as a band with the basic rock instruments and elements but isn’t the rock formula. When digital effects, soft vocals or an accordion get thrown in, it’s definitely an alternative to vocals, drums, guitar and bass.
BUT, then you have a band like Silversun Pickups. Masterful musicians with those instruments with an added keyboard, but what makes them alternative is some of the softest whispery vocals of any band in the last 15 years. After two top 10 charting albums and consistent radio play even now from albums over five years old, in comes more stylish rhythms and high-range singing on the band’s fourth album Better Nature.
While your mileage may vary depending on which songs you prefer (if you prefer the bands style at all), but some things are guaranteed in almost every album produced by Silversun Pickups. Amazing basslines by Nikki Monninger, atmospheric buildups in tracks that add depth, and a distinctive feeling that each song is its own unique entity.
So in 2015’s Better Nature, it is safe to anticipate some definites, but there have been problems in the past with skipable songs such as with their 2012 release Neck of the Woods. It is easy to keep hopeful however with the album’s first single Nightlight and its accompanying 7+ minute video. The imagery and story involved are scripted perfectly to match the fantastic deep, rhythmic new song from Silversun Pickups.
After the first minute of listening to Nightlight you realize it’s a song that you may never be able to forget. The haunting guitar riffs and the bass brought to the front makes the perfect opposition to the higher pitched vocals of Brian Aubert.
Lyrically this song is another example of just how well this band’s music is written and it’s a shame because when many people think of Silversun Pickups, the writing is NOT what comes to mind. The opening verse of Nightlight proves that this band not only know how to craft something more thought provoking then basic words to get to a chorus, but it makes it that much more powerful when sang along to.
Of the two released singles to tease the upcoming album, Silversun Pickups made incredibly smart choices. Both Nightlight and Circadium Rhythm demonstrate the band’s talents at their best. These songs are slower but become loud, and create an environment where you can let your imagination run loose and match it to music like this.
Hearing Monninger’s vocals at the front for this track with Aubert singing backup add a refreshing change in style without sacrificing any identity of the group. The slid up guitar chords are gorgeous that create a great effect as a vocal break up and the chorus is another instance of something you may never get out of your head.
When listening to the full album stream on Pandora you do notice there are songs that don’t flow together. The opening tracks Cradle and Connection start at a higher pace while the album becomes slow and deep near the center, and THEN fall in between the two near the end. While I feel the opening of the album is not as strong as the rest, that doesn’t mean they are in bad, and it also doesn’t mean some of the songs with a little more speed don’t have the same talent.
Silversun Pickups spaced out three years between album releases and you can tell in the quality of mixing and production that they paid attention to the details. There is a very reminiscent quality of Better Nature that Neck Of The Woods possessed. While not every song felt spectacular, the songs that stand out make the ENTIRE album.
Overall, Better Nature will not only satisfy the Silversun Pickups fans back from the days of Carnavas and Swoon, but the new fans that are jumping in to own the atmospheric tracks will love owning an album like this.