February 1, 2007

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Silversun Pickups, Carnavas
Dangerbird Records, 2006

These guys remind me of My Bloody Valentine.

On their major-label debut, Carnavas, L.A. foursome Silversun Pickups revel in the drony, fuzzed-out atmospheric sound Kevin Shields popularized nearly 20 years ago. Songs like “Well Thought Out Twinkles” and “Little Lover’s so Polite” pour on the Big Muff fuzz for a rousing, kick-it-into-third-gear rush, while groggy slow-burners like “Lazy Eye” opt for the Tool approach, building slowly and precisely until blasting into full overdrive crescendo.

Singer/guitarist Brian Aubert seems to be channeling his inner Billy Corgan, with his nasally, tender vocals which harmonize nicely with bassist/singer Nikki Monninger (who, of course, fulfills the role of the band’s obligatory female bass player/sole attractive member). Actually, more than just Aubert’s voice brings the Pumpkins to mind when listening to Carnavas, which is both a good and a bad thing I suppose. It’s good because the Smashing Pumpkins were way cool back in the ’90s and what up-and-coming indie rock band wouldn’t want to be told their album sounds like Siamese Dream?

However, aping the Smashing Pumpkins’ sound is a bad thing because, if you’re like me, Carnavas will inevitably renew your interest in that soon-to-be-reunited-except-not-really alt-rock group, and you’ll wind up listening to your worn-out copy of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness more than the Silversun Pickups’ disc.

While Carnavas certainly has its share of solid tunes, it is not without its filler as well, and once the record reaches the half-way point, it becomes laborious and repetitive. Like so many young bands, the Pickups are still weary of venturing too far from their song-writing comfort zone. No doubt, Carnavas proves a cool 2006 leftover that certainly warrants some time in your stereo. If anything, these guys would be a shoo-in for the opening band when Billy Corgan and Friends return with their first-album-in-however-many-years as they are scheduled to this year. B- — Adam Marletta