Album of the Week: 4/29/13

Neck Of The Woods – Silversun Pickups

Sometimes, a band just clicks. I’ll listen to a song, and then I’ll research them, and then before I know it, I’ve gone through their whole discography and know all of the lyrics after the 15th listening to my favorite song from them.

That wasn’t the Silversun Pickups.

They were one of those bands where I had a few songs, maybe one or two, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find any other songs.  I’d start to listen to an album but I’d stop, get distracted, or listen kind of in the background when I really should have been paying attention. And I wasn’t sure how I felt about the vocals.

I don’t really know what was stopping me. I had really liked what I had heard so far. “Lazy Eye” was a great song, and its moodiness was perfect for rainy days. “Substitution” was a fun song when walking to class.

But I didn’t want to rush into anything – I could tell that they were one of those bands that was growing on me, and I needed to let them grow. You can’t really rush something like that.

That’s what happened with the Decemberists. The first time I heard “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid,” I couldn’t stand Colin Meloy’s voice. “Man, this’d be a great song if it wasn’t for that singer,” I remember thinking.

But then I saw them live, and that was it for me. Colin Meloy is now one of my favorite singer/songwriters, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the Crane Wife and the Hazards of Love.

So I knew. I knew that one day I’d be really, really into the Silversun Pickups.

And I’m glad that I waited. I’m glad I waited to fully absorb them. When you first start experiencing a band, you need to make it intentional, whether you happen upon them or are introduced to them by someone.

What did it for me was happening to listen to “Lazy Eye” on Pandora last week. I’ve heard the song at least 30 times, but it was the first time where I felt like I really listened to the music. I had always focused on the lyrics so much, I decided to let the guitar solo and emotion behind the music get inside my head. And after, as the song dwindled down, I just had this incredible sense of relief. Like I had done something, when really all I had done was listen to a song.

So then I listened to Carnavas and Swoon in one go, and I could feel the band continuing to grow on me. I’d listen to parts of these albums before, but now I was paying attention. I was taking in the music, not trying to focus on the lyrics or meaning, just letting the music take over my train of thought.

That’s the beauty of the Silversun Pickups’ music. They’re a great band to listen to for their lyrics, but my favorite way to listen to them is as a way to clear my mind. The songs are so full and rich that you don’t really need to think about anything when you’re listening to them. It puts me in a sort of reflective state, but not really needing to be reflective about anything. So it’s like I’m thinking about nothing, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve been contemplating life’s great truths. If you want to call it that.

So I really liked Carnavas and Swoon. A lot.

And then I listened to Neck of the Woods.

And that’s what did it for me.

“Skin Graph” came on and I distinctly remember thinking “Hold on… what?” This song was exciting, booming, unpredictable. I couldn’t stop. I needed to listen to it all. “Bloody Mary” still keeps with the reflective nature of Silversun Pickups songs, and is a perfect song for a windy, cloudy day.

“Mean Spirits.” Well… “Mean Spirits” is just bad ass.

The album’s strength is that it’s a bit different from Carnavas and Swoon. While it’s obvious that Neck Of The Woods is my personal preference, Carnavas and Swoon are just as good, if better, than Neck Of The Woods. That being said, Neck Of The Woods is a bit cleaner, maybe a little bit more mainstream sounding. But it works, and the slight changes in their sound that they implemented are exactly that – slight. It’s like they tweaked some things and refined different elements to their sound. It’s like the Black Keys a la Thickfreakness versus El Camino (although in that sense, while I love both of those albums to death, Thickfreakness is my favorite Black Keys album of all time because of the grittier, older sound).

The great thing about Neck Of The Woods is that I feel like this is an album where I’ll go back to after the umpteenth time I’m planning on listening to it, and I’ll still find things that surprise me or I’ll be able to listen to it differently. It sort of reminds me of how I listen to Moon & Antartica by Modest Mouse – I’ve been listening to that album for a good 5 or 6 years now, and yet, I feel like I have so much to learn about that album. In fact, now that I think of it, Silversun Pickups does what bands like Modest Mouse and Smashing Pumpkins do for me. Also, they sound like a combination of the two.

And I will have to say this – I’m starting to really dig Brian Aubert’s vocals.

Track of choice: “Mean Spirits”

Catch them on tour this summer: