Friday, July 10, 2009

Silversun Pickups - Carnavas (2006)

Silversun Pickups - Carnavas (2006)

What a boring album this is. So many of the songs range around the 5-minute mark without any warranting whatsoever. I can liken it to the feeling of when you have another hour at work and you keep looking at the clock with the thought "Aw, come on, it's got to be over now!" going through your head. On a Friday. Before Christmas. Well, maybe not that far-fetched, but similar regardless. Silversun Pickups have all the cred and talent behind it, but man what a boring album.

Case in point: Pick any of the first 5 tracks on this album and tell me something memorable about them. I think most people who defend this statement will immediately argue "Well Thought Out Twinkles" and how it simmers and pops and has a nice proggy sound to it. It does the job of being a prog track with all the bells and whistles, going through the motions and being all starry-eyed like I would imagine the Silversun Pickups are given the fact that half their debut deals with stars and space and time and the usual. So tell me what makes this song about stars and space and time and the usual different from the billions of others about the same thing? Or at least the same ground that a better band, say Modest Mouse or The Pixies might handle better? Not that those are bands that deal with same subject, let alone are in the same league as Silversun Pickups. Just what sets this band apart?

Ah, but therein is your answer. "Lazy Eye," quite possibly one of the best proggy-alt tracks I've heard in recent years, really does do all those things right and does absolutely nothing new at the same time. Everything builds and builds as it should, bearing under a steady guitar riff with slight variation and lyrics that aren't too inspiring, but in those moments and the loud sonic shift that explode in the middle does the band actually sound like it's having fun. Most of the songs on this debut sound like the band can't wait for the song to get over either. They go nowhere and do nothing, unlike "Lazy Eye," which builds and builds, explodes, then settles down again, akin to "A Day in the Life" by The Beatles or "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen. It proves that the formula can actually work. But only sometimes.

The second half of the album is the more memorable half, which is a shame, because it's hard to wade through the first half of boredom and slow peaks. Slow does not equal boredom, but it doesn't help it either. "Three Seed" proves that the band doesn't have to have a fast part to have a successful track, instead choosing to rhythmically branch out in a song as it moves along. Closer "Common Reactor" is equally one of the best on the album, a fitting closing that seems spacey and very colorful as it builds to what sounds like a very fitting end to the album of a quiet explosion.

Silversun Pickups have a nice enough sound that they should be able to create something very unique with it. Little Joy was a band that has a unique Spanish Strokes sound to them that do end up being successful on their debut album despite not breaking barriers. Silversun Pickups seem like they're on the verge of breaking some kind of barrier with the songs on here that are good but overall they don't know what to do with their goods either. They're lost in though and trite lyrics being laid down over monotonous guitar riffs and drum builds that don't really take the mind anywhere, no matter how high it may be. They're on the right track to being something important, but don't let that mistake their talent for quality.

Standout Track: "Lazy Eye"
Overall Rating: 5.0


* The title of the album comes from an homage to singer Brian Aubert's Greek heritage.

* "Lazy Eye" is a playable in song in both Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero: World Tour. The song also hit #5 on the Billboard Modern Rock singles. The song also got used in such hit shows as The O.C., Criminal Minds & Reaper.

* The cover of the album comes from editing of a Darren Waterson image entitled "Summit."

* "Well Thought Out Twinkles" became a huge success in Peru (bigger than "Lazy Eye"), coming in at #2 on the year-end list there. Go figure.

* The music video for single "Little Lover's So Polite" was directing by none-other than thespian-turned-rapper Joaquin Phoenix.

* The original name of the band was A Couple of Couples, due to the fact that most of the members had previously played in other bands with one another and was how the band was formed. The band's name comes from a liquor store not far from where they lived in L.A. across from The Silverlake Lounge and near Sunset Street.


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