Better Nature Silversun Pickups Warner
After exploding on to the alternative rock scene with its remarkably strong 2006 debut, Carnavas, Los Angeles quartet Silversun Pickups has only enhanced its reputation for crafting dramatic and compelling music. Better Nature is its fourth album, and it continues a trend heard on Swoon (2009) and Neck of the Woods (2012) of producing uniformly high-quality records. For a band to manage one such release is admirable; to do it four times in a row, with nary a forgettable or undercooked song among the canon, is practically unheard of.
In a sense, Silversun Pickups is following in the footsteps of one of its alt-rock forebears, the Smashing Pumpkins, another American band that relied heavily on distorted guitars, dynamic arrangements, and a deep undercurrent of melodic and lyrical hooks. By now, the quartet’s command of its sound is firmly entrenched: it sounds like no one else, which is a tough ask in this overcrowded genre. As ever, the urgent vocals of Brian Aubert are a key attraction: his is one of the most distinctive voices in modern rock, and his performance here is typically excellent.
Its 10-track set list is well-weighted, with no obvious weaknesses, and it’s the type of album that sets a mood and maintains it for the duration. Stand-alone highlights include Connection and Nightlight, but the band’s energy is so demanding and intense that Better Nature is best taken in whole. The overall impression is of a polished, distinguished act whose four players possess a collective chemistry that’s all too rare. Silversun Pickups evidently has high standards for itself, and Better Nature offers more proof of its abundant skill.