Sound — 8
Silversun Pickups debut album is 'Carnavas'. It's a 56 minute ride into the L.A bands weird world of breathy vocals, screaming, fuzzbox guitars and pounding drums/Bass. (and a bit of keyboard) Yes this 'formula' has been done before, (My Bloody Valentine & Smashing Pumpkins come to mind) but somehow...somehow, 'Silversun Pickups' manage to make it their own, without sounding like a ripoff of both bands. Be warned though, This album does take a bit of getting used to. You need to give it a few listens to really start to appreciate it, because it is such a bizzare album (In a good way mind you!) The Album starts off with 'Melatonin' a songs that sounds like a MBV song. So much so, that it could have been taken off 'Loveless'. However SSPU have added their own sound to it, so it doesn't come across as a complete rip off of the Shoegaze pioneers. Instead it says: We have listened to MBV and here is their influence on us. It's kind of paying homage to them. 'Melatonin' doesn't sound all that unique. But it is still a pretty good song. And a powerfull opening song at that. And that pretty much sums up the whole album. From the dreamy lullaby of 'Common Reactor' to the harsh, abrasive guitar/vocals on 'Future Foe Scenarios' here is an album that doesn't try to do anything new. It sticks to the 'Shoegaze' formula to the letter. But that isn't really a bad thing. They pay homage to their heros and add their own sound into the mix, but it has still been heard before. However, sometimes you don't need to innovate that much if the sound you're looking for, had been tried and tested. Overall 'Carnavas' is a good album. It starts off strong but after 'Lazy Eye' the songs start to get weaker. But never once are they bad. It isn't that unique either, but SSPU have made good job of it.
Lyrics — 6
The one thing that you notice, is how the vocals really don't equal the instumentation on the album. (In terms of Quality) Brian Aubert is a great singer, don't get me wrong. He has a unique voice and it sounds really good. But he doesn't use it particularly well. Where the instuments chnage dynamics throughout course of the album, Brian's voice does not. The vocal melody (Yes I'm going to say melody as in one.) remains pretty much the same in every song. There doesn't seem to be much melody going on. This means that vocally it gets very boring and monotonous. It's a shame, because on the song(s) where he changes his dynamics and style (That award goes to 'Future Foe Scenarios') it really picks up and sounds fresh and exciting. But sometimes (Quite a lot) it just seems drag the songs on/down. With the lyrics, it's a similar story. Brian's Corgan-esque, poetic lyrics are good, but they seem to be incredibly random and disjointed. Example: 'checkered Floor' ''winded through monotone one foot on checkered floor head hung but still watching one dimlit figurine'' ''concealed pass it on appeal play along'' ''please don't stop singing cohorts are empty jars'' (Lyrics by Brian Aubert) The lyrics are not that bad. But they just don't flow or have any cohesive subject matter. I for one cannot figure out and connect with these lyrics, becuase there doesn't seem to be a clear topic in most of the songs. With Billy Corgan, (whose lyrical influence is present), Some of his Lyrics arn't all that great. But he has a strong sense of vocal melody backing it up, so you don't really notice the (sometimes) poor lyrics. You focus on the melody instead. In the case of Brian Aubert, He has neither, so it gives the listener, nothing to focus on. Again this is a shame because you've got great instrumentation paired with average lyrics and a good voice but no sense of melody. Overall I think the Vocals/Lyrics arn't bad, they are just not that good either.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall 'Carnavas' leaves the impression of a band that have lots of potential and good ideas, but they havn't really captured them on record. That said, 'Carnavas' is still a good album. Like most albums, it has it's good points and bad points. I think if/when SSPU manage to inject more melody into their sound (vocals in particular)then they will be onto a winner. -Ben Tidy- Note: If you listen to 'Lazy Eye' and then to '1979' by the Smashing Pumpkins' they are strikingly similar. Not 'My band ripped off your band' similar but the drum beat and overall feel of the song reminds me of '1979'.