Silversun Pickups: Alt Rock Ain’t Dead

Periodically, I like to highlight a few of my favorite new rock albums. In previous posts this year, I’ve exalted fresh discs by Glasvegas and The Rakes. Today I’d like to swoon (you’ll get the pun in a second) over the latest work by Silversun Pickups.

For those of you born in the ’80s, I have some news for you: alt rock ain’t dead.

After scoring a few years ago with hypnotic single “Lazy Eye,” Silversun Pickups come out guns-a-blazing on their second full-length, Swoon. The band missed a few times on their debut, but show on the followup they know how to go heavy with the rock while still maintaining a fine sense of melody and atmosphere.

It’s easy to draw comparisons to the acronym-sharing Smashing Pumpkins, a group which similarly spends a lot of time “working the layers” in distortion-heavy meloncholia. But whereas that band flourished in negativity, there’s something undeniably hopeful in the Pickups’ sound.

As good as Swoon is, not all tracks are created equal. Single “Panic Switch” is clearly the best of the bunch, incorporating a compelling mix of chords and instrumentation.  Other highlights include the bouncy “Substitution,” the string-laden “The Royal We” and high-tension “Surrounded (Or Spiraling).”  But a couple tracks, like the repetitive “It’s Nice to Know You Work Alone,” lack the same freshness.  Still, it’s overall a solid CD that’s certain to reassure ’90s alternative rock fans there’s still some creativity left in the genre.

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