Nearly a thousand days after their sophomore album ‘Swoon,’ Los Angeles based indie rockers Silversun Pickups puts out a three-track EP titled ‘Seasick.’ The 2010 Grammy nominee band is headed by Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger on vocals and guitars, and backed by keyboardist Joe Lester and drummer Christopher Guanlao. They are currently working on their third album release, set to drop in spring of 2012.
Silversun Pickups’ characteristic fuzz groove continues, though the band seems to explore the depths of inner darkness a bit more with each release. Whereas early singles like “Little Lover So Polite” and “Lazy Eye” were incredibly thrilling and fun, “Panic Switch” included spy-agent paranoia. Now comes “Seasick” which seems most reminiscent of ruminating tracks like “Three Seed” combined with the slight swagger of “Catch and Release.”
Keyboard and seagulls set a reflective mood as Aubert asks, “What can we do to make this worse?” This nearly seven minute song goes through the turmoil of uncertainty, as if Aubert is stumbling along the beach, hands pressed over his ears, desperately attempting to shut out the voices from within. “Don’t make a sound,” he pleads, “it throws me off.” Beautiful here are Monninger’s continuous backing vocals adding emphasis and delicacy as the lines confess an inability to hear or see anything adding to the confusion at hand.
The two songs included on this single are “Broken Bottles” and “Ribbons & Detours.” The former is fast and furious, akin to the pacing of “Panic Switch” and “The Royal We.” Admittedly, upon first listen this reviewer fears that Aubert, whose voice and musical style so often draws comparisons to Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan, will suddenly shave his head and don a “Zero” shirt. Indeed, Aubert sounds as if he’s a raging rat in a cage. However, behind the crazed frustration, Aubert states with great determination, “I. Don’t. Want. To. Relive this.” And that’s where the song transforms from a wild rant to a meaningful declaration.
Tranquility follows the storm as the clarity of “Ribbons & Detours” flows in. The mood is a melancholy sense of longing which speaks of a force that’s “tempting me softly but killing our dream.” This song sounds like the white-on-gray beauty of winter. “You said it’s over,” the lyrics recall, “but maybe, it’s the same old thing.” Whether or not that’s a hopeful conclusion, it’s hard to tell.
The changing tides of life can at times be overwhelming. There are moments which may stretch into years, when the upheaval leaves us nauseous and unable to focus on anyone other than ourselves. Our only hope is to find our footing once again, to return to solid ground. That, or gain our sea legs and learn to roll with the undulating waves.
July 14 Toronto Edgefest 2012