LA’s Silversun Pickups have been bopping along for 20 years now, with their debut Carnavas dropping in 2006. What has followed in the ensuing years is a series of decent enough alternative rock albums that like to think they’re shoegaze, dream pop, and post-punk. But really, they’re merely reflections in a scuffed up mirror of influences, inspirations and a scene that no longer exists. The term alternative has become synonymous with bands like Imagine Dragons, Twenty One Pilots, Kings Of Leon, and Foster The People. Silversun Pickups seems to fit right in the middle of the melee.
On the band’s 6th full-length, titled Physical Thrills, the band makes interesting enough songs with slick production and touches of modern pop/rock elements. These songs are about as far away from where the band started(Smashing Pumpkins-lite) as anything, giving into a last gasp at radio recognition. Or at the very least music licensing for commercials.
14 songs of middle of the road tempos and neither melancholy or uplift, Physical Thrills is an album of endless lead ups to nowhere in-particular. There’s nothing nearly as catchy as the band’s first big hit “Lazy Eye”. “Scared Together” is about as rousing as it gets and that’s not saying much. It’s the kind of “rocker” that feels written in boredom not inspirations. Opening track “Stillness(Way Beyond)” has gravitas and impressive production, but there’s no soul. Just empty platitudes. “Hidden Moon” either wants to be Gang Of Four or Red Hot Chili Peppers but achieves neither. It’s almost as if Silversun Pickups attempted to make a dance album but just didn’t quite make it.
“Empty Nest” is catchy. Somewhere between Arcade Fire and Depeche Mode I guess. “We Won’t Come Out” leans a bit more into the Depeche Mode vibes, while “Quicksand” meanders in piano ballad boredom.
Physical Thrills is the kind of album that will be played by fans of Silversun Pickups’ Carnavas and Swoon once, maybe twice, and then will be forgotten. Maybe a song or two will end up on the inevitable “best of”. Perhaps a mixtape to a friend, but that’s where it will stop. Physical Thrills is forgettable at at best; unnecessary at worst.