Friday, December 23, 2011

Silversun Pickups Get All Seasick

If the new 10-inch vinyl and digital EP from the Silversun Pickups is representative of what we can expect from this alternative band's third album (called 3), then it will be a great year for music. Seasick rocks.

Sure, all three songs are unreleased leftovers from Swoon that didn't fit. And yes, Silversun Pickups has already said none of them will be on the new album. The three-track set is billed as a single but feels like an EP is standalone, serving as a buffer between the last album and the next one.

If you are wondering, the tracks didn't fit Swoon because Swoon stretched the dream pop slant and further separated the band from their indie rock roots (and brilliant album Carnavas). You can hear it by comparing Seasick to the album. Swoon avoided unpleasantness. Seasick embraces it.

Seasick is darkly calm and hauntingly complicated. 

Seasick best captures the genius of Brian Aubert (vocals, guitar) and his delivery of something that shimmers on the outside while turning with turmoil inside. Everything about it is distorted like someone dazed or near drowned. It's almost as if a few seconds were stretched out to nearly seven minutes.

It's not only the best song on the three-track set but also one of their best songs ever. The atmospheric tone is right. Nikki Monninger joining Aubert for the chorus is right. The distorted guitars that roll in like a wake, with small waves causing a slow and steady sway, feel right too. Hear it for yourself on this audio clip from Dangerbird Records.

While some reviewers are calling Seasick the stuff that only diehard Silversun Pickups fan will love, they couldn't be more wrong. Even the B-sides don't sound like B-sides. They could have easily been released as singles too.

Although bookended by better songs, the second track, Broken Bottles, comes across as a solid indie driver. All you have to do is get past the poppy introduction. After 30 seconds, Christopher Guanlao on drums, Aubert, and the guitars all take over. The off-putting introduction does return in the chorus, but it works better with everyone powered up.

The third track, Ribbons And Detours, is another atmospheric piece almost on par with Seasick but more ethereal and moody. Aubert is showcased as a solo vocalist, and Joe Lester deserves additional props on keys. He sets the near listless mood at the open and carries it throughout.

A few other notables from Silversun Pickups. 

Although not included with the set, another upcoming song from the Silversun Pickups is set to be released on Jan. 24. The track, a cover of Bob Dylan's Not Yet Dark, will be joined by 79 artists (76 Dylan songs) to salute Amnesty International's 50th anniversary and life-saving human rights work.

As a closer, I thought I'd include the video featuring a rare acoustic set with Aubert and Monninger singing Lazy Eye from Carnavas. Not much beats it, except seeing them for the first time at the Silverlake Lounge. But Seasick plays nicely alongside it.

What I love best about the video is how grounded Aubert and Monninger have remained during what sometimes feels like a whirlwind ascent (even if it really wasn't). Let's hope their feet remain on the ground while working with producer Jacknife Lee (U2, R.E.M.). We'll see in the spring.

Silversun Pickups' Seasick Rolls Over 7.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Although Seasick and its B-sides were recorded while the band was producing Swoon, it easily proves they have plenty of life left in them to make great music. Fans of the Silversun Pickups will want to download all three tracks. Others might want to stick with the first and third.

Seasick by the Silversun Pickups is ready for download on iTunes and the tracks are available on Amazon. The 10-inch vinyl edition of Seasick is limited. While I included a link to Amazon resellers, check with the label before paying inflated rates.
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