Sometimes a band releases an album that makes listeners thirst to see them live so they can bear witness to how the songs translate in that setting. Silversun Pickups’ latest album Neck of the Woods is one of those albums. This (their third) collection of songs is energetic enough just on the album, so of course live they will be that much better.
For this album the band worked with producer Jacknife Lee. Some of Lee’s previous production credits include albums by R.E.M., Snow Patrol, and Bloc Party. Out of that short list it is easiest to draw a comparison between Silversun Pickups the sounds of Bloc Party (QRO album review), so Lee seems obvious and turned out to be a good choice.
Getting down to business, how does Neck of the Woods compare to Silversun Pickups’ previous two albums? Overall, it feels a bit darker. Some of their more popular songs like their hit “Lazy Eye” from 2006’s Carnavas or “Substitution” from 2009’s Swoon (QRO review) had a lighter feel. Granted, there were still plenty of dark-sounding songs on both of those albums, but with Neck of the Woods it all feels dark. However, dark is good in this sense. This band is playing to its strengths.
Click here for photos of Silversun Pickups at 2012 Sasquatch! Festival in George, WA in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of Silversun Pickups at Sunset Cove in Miami, FL on June 16th, 2010 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Click here for photos of Silversun Pickups at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY on March 5th, 2010 in the QRO Concert Photo Gallery
Carnavas had a smidgen of garage rock elements with fuzzy guitars and bass, whereas this album is a bit heavier with elements of 90s alt rock influences (think Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins). Swoon had elements of both where it acts as a bit of a bridge between the two. Think of it as, “First we gave you X, then we gave you more X with a little bit of Y mixed in, now we’re giving you all Y.” There are areas of Neck of the Woods where they sound a bit Radiohead-esque circa OK Computer. The best example of this is the song “Make Believe”, which sounds like a direct tribute to “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead (QRO live review).
As with all of the albums by this band, good drumbeats abound on Neck of the Woods. Drummer Chris Guanlao really brings the heat on songs like “Skin Graph”, “Busy Bees”, “Mean Spirits”, and the albums closer, “Out of Breath”.
These songs are very well crafted and tight. There are moments where the instruments hit the same notes together like at the halfway point of “Busy Bees”. Subtle efforts in arrangement such as these make a world of difference with the overall impact of an album. This is just one of the many areas where Neck of the Woods succeeds.
Neck of the Woods feels like the natural progression that bands tend to go through. Silversun Pickups sound like they have found their footing and are well matured by this point. Would it be too cheesy to liken them to a fine wine? They only get better with age? Well like it or not, that’s how it is.
MP3 Stream: “Make Believe“