Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Neck of the Woods - Silversun Pickups (+video)

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Album cover for Neck of the Woods by Silversun Pickups. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for Neck of the Woods by Silversun Pickups. Photo / Supplied

Their songs are too long, the singer's too whiney and they sound too much like the Smashing Pumpkins.

All those complaints and many more were levelled at Los Angeles' Silversun Pickups over their first two albums, but on their third record they address those issues and craft their best and most consistent effort yet.

With electronic producer Jacknife Lee at the helm, the Pickups have combined the epic grandstanding of Arcade Fire, the jackhammer rhythm section of Bloc Party and the stadium ambitions of Foo Fighters into something thrillingly unique.

Like 2009's Swoon, Neck of the Woods still takes some surprising turns - the cheesy '80s synths that open The Pit being the biggest - but there's a single-minded vision that runs through Out of Time's pulsating rhythms, Make Believe's pummelling second half and the fuzzy rawk of Skin Graph.

Frontman Brian Aubert has described the album as like a "horror movie", something that comes through on the spooky backing vocals of Simmer, the bruising tension of Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings) and atmospheric ballad Here We Are (Chancer).

But it's Gun Shy-Sunshine that really deserves to soundtrack a movie, acting as the album's sprawling epicentre and helping to bring Neck of the Woods to an emotional conclusion.

It's a song that proves the Silversun Pickups really are ready to stick their necks out - and they're all the better for it.

Stars: 4/5
Verdict: Nineties-style alt-rockers carve out their own path.


- NZ Herald

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