Los Angeles in 2002 was only the beginning for a band that got their name from a liquor store across the street from a club they used to play. It took four years of playing clubs and a small EP before the band released their first full-length album “Carnavas.” The album launched the band into mainstream notoriety, earning a place on the Billboard 200 at No. 80.
It has been over three years since the alternative rock band Silversun Pickups released an album, and the wait is finally over. The band’s fourth full-length album “Better Nature” is out and switches things up for the band.
This is the first album the band has put out under their own label New Machine Recordings, which allowed them to go back to their indie roots. With a impressive 10 tracks and just over 49 minutes long, the band had complete creative control over this record. It shows.
The band sounds similar to music from The Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine, due to the use of heavy amounts of distorted guitars in most of their tracks. The signature style for the band is often a slow jam melody with intimate harmonies. However, they are also an alternative rock band that’s not afraid to pick up the pace and lay down some riffs.
Musically, “Better Nature” slows down considerably from previous albums. The band found a new groove that differs substantially from their last album, “Neck of the Woods.” They have less emphasis on the rock aspect and more on the alternative side of their music.
Experimentation isn’t rare, even for a 13-year-old band. Most times, it is often necessary to survive.
This album stands out as one of their strongest because of the overall length of the tracks. In fact, half the tracks on here are longer than five minutes. This provides ample time to build up, release and come back down with no weird transitions or abrupt endings.
“Nightlight” is the overall standout track of the album. It’s a fast-paced, upbeat jam — a throwback to the band’s old sound. There are plenty of catchy beats to tap your foot along too. There is a solid bass line throughout the track, as well as some perfect harmony and backup vocals to provide the track with some depth. Once that first chorus kicks in, you’re hooked.
On the other hand, “Circadian Rhythm (Last Dance)” could easily be labeled as pop. It starts off with a slower tempo, but it builds up to a dance-like rhythm. This track manages to stick to this basic melody for the rest of time. The drum tempo manages to stay the same throughout the whole track, which is catchy and does not necessarily take away from the overall appeal but does have that get-old-quick vibe to it.
Lyrically, “Better Nature” is about the same as past Sliversun Pickups works. There isn’t a whole lot of depth to the lyrics.
Like countless L.A.-based bands before them, mainstream recognition has been long overdue. The Silversun Pickups are looking to mix things up with “Better Nature” and stand a real chance at having a campy chart-topper. “Better Nature” has some genuine promise in the alternative scene with tracks like “Nightlight,” “Connection” and “Latchkey Kids.” The rest of the record feels at home in a pop crowd.
Needless to say, if you have been a longtime fan of Sliversun Pickups, then this album is a must-have for you. “Better Nature” not only has plenty of new twist to keep the band’s sound fresh, but it also delivers plenty of fan service to long-time listeners. New listeners might only like a few tracks off the whole album, but it’s still worth checking out.
This album is far from a let-down and deserves a listen-through no matter your musical preferences.
Final score: 3/5
Collegian Music Critic Alec Erickson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CTV_ACE.