Silversun Pickups - Widow's Weeds - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Silversun Pickups - Widow's Weeds

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2019-06-07
Silversun Pickups - Widow's Weeds
Silversun Pickups - Widow's Weeds

Silversun Pickups have covered a ton of sonic ground over the course of their nearly-two decades as a band. Be it the stunning indie-rock of their debut, their breakthrough sophomore release (out-pumpkining the Smashing Pumpkins with 2009's Swoon), or the synth-heavy textures of 2015’s Better Nature, the L.A.-based four-piece has never shied away from their unabashed love of ‘90s alt-rock. And on the band’s latest release, the Butch Vig-produced Widow’s Weeds, Silversun Pickups have admirably chosen to double-down on a sound that many of their contemporaries chose to abandon a decade ago.

While the band has dabbled with electronic touches (courtesy of the multi-instrumentalist Joe Lester) from the get-go, Better Nature, with its heavy use of drum machines and vocal processing, took things to the 'nth degree. In that respect, Widow’s Weeds almost feels like a reaction as the record is nearly devoid of the programming and pads that defined its predecessor, and for the first time in years, Brian Aubert’s breathy vocals shine through what is a refreshingly uncluttered mix.

“Neon Wound” kicks things off in an appropriately dramatic fashion, as drummer Christopher Guanlao’s metronomic pulse (sorely underutilized at times on Better Nature) aptly guides the song through its numerous twists and turns. The intricate acoustic picking that kicks off the rambunctious lead single “It Doesn’t Matter Why” further cement Widow’s Weeds status as a return to the band’s organic roots while the simmering “Freakazoid” that follows feels like a call back to the band’s earlier days where they so effectively mined moody dynamics, filling their songs with tangible sonic peaks and valleys.

Lyrically, Widow’s Weeds mines similar lyrical territory as much of the band’s previous work, employing heavy-handed metaphors and imagery-laden prose to great effect. While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, I’ve always found the band’s penchant for off-the-wall musings that seem to hint at a group that doesn’t take itself too seriously refreshing. One of Silversun Pickup’s secret weapons has always been the vocal interplay between Aubert and bassist Nikki Monninger, and the two shine on songs like “Songbirds” and the stunning centerpiece “Widow’s Weeds." While there are a couple of lacklustre tracks (“Strawman,” for instance, never really goes anywhere) bogging down the middle of the record, the one-two punch of “Simpatico” and “We Are Chameleons” provides Widow’s Weeds with an incredibly strong conclusion.

Born of what frontman Brian Aubert described as “an extremely dark place,” Widow’s Weeds succeeds in reminding fans of the band’s past glories while also giving brief glimpses of where they might be heading next. And even though Widow’s Weeds probably isn’t going to wind up on the top of many fan’s personal Silversun Pickups album rankings, it’s still one of the best guitar-centric albums to be released this year.

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