SILVERSUN PICKUPS – Swoon (2009)

Silversun Pickups - Swoon When Silversun Pickups released their debut album, Carnavas, in 2006, Zeitgeist was still only a twinkle in Billy Corgan’s eyes. So Carnavas, for better or worse, became the album that would tide us over for a year until Zeitgeist would be released. Now hold on for a second. Go back and ponder those initial sentences again – you see, almost every review of Silversun Pickups points primarily to The Smashing Pumpkins as their chief inspiration. And for good reason, as the band hang the Pumpkins’ influence on pretty much every song. There’s the dense layering of guitars (guitars often boasting the same tone that Corgan & co. favored), the duplicitous drum work (which shifts gears from “beatkeeping” to “onslaught” regularly), and of course, Brian Aubert’s distinctively thin vocals.

That last bit is probably the most intriguing thing about the band. After pondering his voice for a good long while, I’ve come to the conclusion that the inflection he uses is very similar to Billy Corgan (in that it’s very exaggerated), but the actual timbre of his voice is more like Claudio Sanchez. Hmm. Weird. But I digress. Anyways, despite a semi-dangerous level of idol worship, Swoon (much like Carnavas), is an enjoyable album, but there’s one key problem that it shares with its predecessor: it only manages to capture one facet of the Pumpkins’ sound. The Smashing Pumpkins, if you’ll recall, were quite diverse in their compositions; their most well-known album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness spawned five singles, none of which sounded anything alike. And while there’s no question that Silversun Pickups have the guitar-drive aspect of the Pumpkins sound down (with songs like Panic Switch being easily able to go toe-to-toe with Muzzle), they can’t quite get anywhere else.

None of this should detract from the fact that Swoon makes for a good listening experience, although a difficult one to sit through in one sitting (due to the adamantly singular focus the band has). Still, with The Smashing Pumpkins’ revival seemingly on the brink of collapse in such a short span of time, perhaps the niche that Silversun Pickups feel so intent on filling will be vacated for them.

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