Rock

Bet­ter Na­ture Silversun Pick­ups Warner

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - An­drew McMillen

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.

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