Record of the Week
Silversun Pickups - Swoon
Swoon is very much a case of if-it-ain’t-broke for Silversun Pickups’ sophomore outing. Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins comparisons are many and fair. As with the debut, Carnavas, they take Corgan’s template, snip its pummelling bass, and paste great washes of polished fuzz in its place.
What else it similar to Carnavas is that the album houses a few slowburn anthems. Whether there is anything to rival ‘Waste It On’ is open for debate, but early single ‘Panic Switch’ comes close and introduces a devastating tempo switch, which boots the listen in the ears. It also relies on heavy vocal repetition, which is unsubtle, is effective and it hits hard. This cannot be said of elsewhere, in being so, well, swoon-some, thanks to the distorted FX, it lacks a rawness to be truly exciting at every turn. ‘It’s Nice To Know You Work Alone’ and ‘Draining’ are a little disappointing absent against such Corgan-aping. That said, ‘The Royal We’ closes in exhilarating fashion ‘There’s No Secrets This Year’ is old-fashioned and thus effective alt-rock.
Swoon sounds big and it takes a time to grow, and despite arguments for it being too clean, hits the mark much more often than it misses. Given the time they deserve, Silversun Pickups step out of easy comparison and into their own niche, a niche that warrants inclusion in discerning record collections.
Brakes - Touchdown
‘If It Ain’t Broke …’
Touchdown is more of a comfortable tap in than an overhead cup winner. It is a safe and capable third outing for these assorted Electric Soft Parade, Tenderfoot and British Sea Power members and collaborators. Their combined indie-rock and distinctive vocal will please fans but not challenge them. Touchdown is the sound of a quirky band having it corners rounded off. This is not necessarily a bad thing as in doing so they are reined in their excess. Hamilton’s jarring squawks are no more; their desire to meld indie-rock and alt-country has gone the same way. Touchdown scores points for consistency and listenability, but loses them for being a touch pedestrian. Pedestrians do not have brakes, but wagons do. Be grateful then that these Brakes have no desire to jump the closest bandwagon.
HTRK - Marry Me Tonight
‘More Birthday Party Than Engagement’
These cooler-than-you Aussies have previously been labelled noise terrorists but their brand of listless, minimal, industrial, goth-rock no-wave does not inspire terror, rather intrigue. Their hard to obtain debut, ‘Nostalgia’ was an awkward and at times challenging assault. This release is more accessible, but no less compromising. It has undoubtedly been spawned from over-listening to Birthday Party records, but the hints at DAF in ‘Nostalgia’ are here confirmed with the slick sequencing skills on offer. The easiest and catchiest number ‘Rentboy’ comes on like a gothic cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, and is comparable with The XX’s recent material. Elsewhere the album is less friendly and altogether denser. Their no-wave industrionics may be out of date, but are certainly not out of fashion.
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