Take a moment to consider this band’s name and the fact that its members are from Los Angeles, and try to conjure up in your mind what its music might sound like. The name invokes old Fords winding up the dusty roads of the canyons at dusk. And the dominant sound of LaLaLand has always been light and bright (it’s the sunshine, dummy), from the Beach Boys to the country-tinged folk scene of the ’70s to today’s industry-churned-out American Idol pop.
So with that name and home base, it’d be logical for you to think Silversun Pickups might sound like Beachwood Sparks or Rooney. But you’d be way off. Silversun Pickups trade in a dark, industrial, gothy sound completely out of place in the land of beaches and Beverly Hills.
After a handful of listens to an album, I’m usually ready to review it — knowledgeable of highlights, lowlights, and aspects I might want to mention. But I kept listening and listening to Carnavas without being able to get a grasp on it. It’s all just one big soup of big guitars, bad songwriting, and cheezy, lasery electro-effects.
At first it seems like that mix might work. “Melatonin” brings a big wall of sound glow. Maybe the band members are onto something: an updating of Phil Spector-esque bombast for our digital age. But when every song that follows doesn’t do much different, the Pickups start looking like one-trick ponies. “Well Thought out Twinkles” is aggro, bad-era Smashing Pumpkins (read: Adore). Lead singer Brian Aubert seems to have the same type of aimless anger that plagues Billy Corgan. Sample lyric: “I’ve been waiting for this silence all night long.” Whatever, Azrael Abyss.
The other Pickups may want to think about dropping this guy. Nikki Monninger’s ascending bass line is the most technically talented feature of “Waste It On,” and she adds pretty backing vocals to “Little Lover’s So Polite” and “Dream at Tempo 119.” And Joe Lester’s keyboards make “Rusted Wheel” sound like Eno playing on and producing an early Echo and the Bunnymen track.
Or maybe the Pickups might want to move to Cleveland. There’s a reason Trent Reznor’s ugly mope machine rolled out of Cleveland. (It’s Cleveland, dummy.) Albums like Carnavas just seem out of place in SoCal, the happiest place on earth.
Streaming audio: http://myspace.com/silversunpickups