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Together for a decade now, Silversun Pickups are best known for
*swelling shoegaze atmospheres – “Lazy Eye”
*explosive rock — “Well Thought out Twinkles”
*groovy fuzz guitar – “Come Back Kid”, and what Girl on Guy host Aisha Tyler called *ferocious dreampop – “Panic Switch”
‘Neck of the Woods’ takes on a new direction all together.

Although Aubert stated in a recent KROQ interview that this album sounds to him “like a horror movie,” the dark vibes are not as obvious as on SSPU’s December 2011 EP, ‘Seasick.’  Rather, Aubert’s subsequent description of the album was more accurate: “It sounds like a desire to want to get in but you can’t.  Or a desire to want to pull out something from the center into your fringe.”

This intense interplay of melancholy and frustration is what comes across most prominently in songs such as “Skin Graph,” “Busy Bees,” and “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already).”  The tracks that arguably carry the most traditional SSPU vibes are “Simmer,” “Make Believe,” and “Out of Breath.”  Meanwhile, the group delves into electronica, a new undertaking for them, in songs like “The Pit.”

Guanlao’s drum skill on songs such as “Waste It On” (2006, ‘Carnavas’) have always been audibly impressive and visually entertaining so there is some disappointment at the inclusion of programmed drums.  Granted, electronica does add to the haunting tones of “Simmer,” but long time fans will find this new sound takes some getting used to.

The album single, “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” is a mingling of floaty dreampop, fittingly reminiscent of childhood play, and ruminating bass notes, displaying the reflective tone of someone now grown beyond such play.  As if dreaming of the hypothetical, Aubert sings, “If we’ll stay… I’ll never let them get closer, or shower you with any blame.  Now we dance in our own picture where the rules have changed.”  This song makes a nice sequel to “Growing Old Is Getting Old” (2009, ‘Swoon’).  Instead of lamenting the ever-continuous push of time, it seeks to recapture the joy of youth.

‘Neck of the Woods’ is a largely pensive album in which Silversun Pickups grapples with past experiences and future decisions.  It’s a reconsideration of present mental framework and a resolution to move forward with new conviction.

The former is best heard in the lines, “I can never show you what you gave to me, a shape before, a make believe… shaking up realities!” Aubert then excuses himself, saying, “Forgive me, forgive me if I seem alarmed. I had a motionless moment.  No harm is done.”  Shaking himself out of his musings, Aubert concludes, “I’ve made my mind up, my mind up, because the line drawn in the sand is wrong.”

Ultimately, the difficult path does not dwell in angst or settle into bitterness; here it graciously leads into a greater wisdom.

Rating: 4.5/5


Silversun Pickups are performing a mini-concert outdoors on Jimmy Kimmel Live on May 8th at 4:45pm.