Summary: The blueprint for their finest album.
Listen To: 'Out Of Breath'
Avoid: 'Here We Are (Chancer)'
Get It: Here
Get It: Here
It's always nice when a band experiments with its typical sound. While 'Neck Of The Woods' is nothing drastically different to previous albums, it does follow the band's trademark sound into new and exciting territory.
Whereas 'Carnavas' and 'Swoon' could both be characterised by the use of distortion to emphasise linear songs with a dark edge, 'Neck Of The Woods' is charactised by the use of distortion to add depth and emphasis to more complex songs. There is never any doubt that this is a Silversun Pickups album. The sound is there; it is just expanded and more adventurous.
However this does cause tracks to run the risk of being too drawn out. 'Simmer' is one of these songs. It is a slow-burning song that is characterised by a scorching vocal melody and searing guitars. Sadly, it takes too long to reach boiling point and is hasty to begin cooling down again. But the depth and relentless flow do show the potential that the band's new sound has.
The sequencing of this album is also exceptional. Opening track 'Skin Graph' lays the foundation for the rest of the album with its gentle melodies that eventually build to a catchy and distorted refrain, sounding something like a shoegaze-style rendition of The Smashing Pumpkins' 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'.
This sets the wheels in motion for second track 'Make Believe', which floats along breezily until it reaches its climax - a jam-like instrumental of danceable distortion with a sing-a-long vibe.
The album continues to flow beautifully as if it were designed to be a performance set list. Penultimate track 'Gun-Shy Sunshine' is a simply stunning shoegaze song that will immediately appeal to fans of The Horrors' 'Changing The Rain' with its mesmerising guitars and simple beat. This is the slowest song on the album which paves the way perfectly for final track 'Out Of Breath', which begins with frantic guitar notes that propel the song forward. From there it builds into one of the band's finest songs to date.
Although on the surface it may seem uncertain and even messy in places, digging a little deeper will reveal that 'Neck Of The Woods' is an album of daring depth and substance. While it may not be as instantly accessible as it's predecessors it does still contain some tracks that could easily have been included on previous releases and it builds the basis of a promising future for the band.