Los Angeles indie-rockers Silversun Pickups have been one of the most quietly consistent rock bands of the 00’s. Releasing their debut EP in 2005 and four full length studio albums since then, the band’s lineup has remained unchanged since their club days in 2002, as has their sound for the most part. Unlike many of their contemporaries, you won’t hear any songs with those pop-style hooks and catchy choruses that many similar artists in this era seem to build their reputation off of. Instead the band focuses on more complex musical arrangements, innovative guitar effects, and adventurous sound manipulation. Their 2015 album “Better Nature” marked new territory for the band in a couple ways, as it is the first to be released on their record label “New Machine Recordings.” It also marks a departure in their sound as they took more of a dream pop backline to their music, incorporating more electronics than on previous records.
Currently Silversun Pickups are on the road, still touring in support of “Better Nature,” on a recent stop at House of Blues in Boston, MA they showed off the precision and skill that they have developed over the last decade. After opening with “Cradle (Better Nature)” – the lead track on the new album – Silversun went into some of their older material such as “The Royal We” from their 2009 album “Swoon.” In a similar vein to some popular groups in the 90’s, Silversun Pickups lineup features a female bassist, Nikki Monninger, who also provides vocal harmonies and even lead vocals on some tracks. There’s an unmistakable influence picked up from those 90’s acts such as the Pixies or Smashing Pumpkins in both Silversun’s music and stage presentation.
Part of their progression is the development of keyboardist/sound manipulator Joe Lester who brings an electronic influence to the mix, blending with the distorted guitars and vocal harmonies for a more post-modern sound. Later in their set, the band broke out fan favorite track “Panic Switch” a song that once climbed to number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. The visual presentation of the show featured often harsh colored lighting and significant use of strobes adding to the shoegaze element of the band. They brought their energy out in a big way for the final song of the main set “Lazy Eye” almost exploding together at the exact same moment.
Silversun Pickups’ spacey, shoegaze influenced, indie rock is a sound that is quite unique, something that the alternative rock scene has been starving for. It’s one of the biggest reasons they’ve managed to maintain continued relevancy in the last ten years. Playing together with an unchanged lineup has also been a huge contribution to their success as Silversun are a band that are truly in sync with each other, especially in the live setting.