February 1, 2007

Distort Your Engines

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Don’t adjust your speakers, apparently its supposed to sound like that. Yep, what you thought was fuzzy mold you had to peel off of your record, the Silversun Pickups actually want that there. “Melatonin,” a song quite appropriately named since the feeling that you’re on drugs certainly abounds, opens the Silversun Pickup’s debut LP Carnavas (which Merriam-Webster’s defines as…a word that does not exist. Again. It’s the drugs.)

So, unless you do actually huff glue when you first play Carnavas, the Silversun Pickups will likely confuse you greatly. Besides distorting, not just their guitars, but their whole record with antiquated television static, you might get slight flashbacks to another band with the same initials. In fact, the Silversun Pickups and the Smashing Pumpkins share more than just parallel designations. Coincidentally, they both front singers with curious voices (Billy Corgan whines, Brian Aubert is as androgynous a singer as an indie rock Michael Jackson.) Both bands also boast female bassists and an asian member, the kind of diversity Cornell salivates over.

Overall, Carnavas is an achievement in that each of the musical anomalies the band must overcome to attract the average listener congeal together to create a very persuasive sound. Wolfmother and Snow Patrol have bundled up the scrawny rockers to tour with them, and the band even made a few of those Christmas “Jingle Ball”/”Not So Silent Night”/”Rock the Bells”-type appearances with the likes of the Killers, the Shins, the Raconteurs, and Modest Mouse, among others. Even Letterman invited the L.A.-based quartet to his program last December. After they voraciously rocked through their single “Lazy Eye,” Letterman commented to Paul Shaffer, “Weren’t they great? That’s all you could want.” High praise indeed.

The current single, “Well Thought Out Twinkles,” shares with its predecessor the ability to attach to any listener’s consciousness and convince him to give Carnavas a second spin. Upon the subsequent round of exploration, “Rusted Wheel,” “Little Lover’s So Polite,” “Future Foe Scenarios,” and “Checkered Floor” seal the Silversun Pickups into the mental musical catalogue of said listener, whether he likes it or not. You won’t think you like the Silversun Pickups, but lay down those defenses: you actually do.
Contrary to Aubert’s sissy voice, these guys rock hard. One of their trademarks is their unassuming guitars that mushroom into a full blown sonic force, and Aubert must summon the testosterone to scream over his music. Even the sugary sweet solo in “Little Lover’s So Polite” commands respect, strangely but adeptly bookended by the saccharine vocal additions of Nikki Monniger.

The Silversun Pickups have carved themselves a comfortable little niche in the oft repetitive world of indie rock. In their little nook, they dust off their dictionaries before they search them for the biggest words that they can use to cram into their lyrics. (But what self-respecting indie band doesn’t?) The foursome can pat their backs and polish off their guitars, keyboards, and distorted speakers in solitude, at least, that is, until some other bands discovers the 90’s Prog Rock Revival.