Silversun Pickups’ discography ranges from fuzzy shoegaze to pop-punk with beautiful arrangements in albums worth listening to. Brian Aubert juggles the mic and guitar while Nikki Monninger steadies the music with bass and backup vocals. And while Joe Lester fiddles with sound distortion and the keyboard, Chris Guanlao plays a classic drumbeat. The band performed at Coachella in 2016 while on tour for their album Better Nature and reeled in new fans with their irreplicable sound. The band’s 2015 album Better Nature reigned in the shoegaze with a twist of psychedelic rock and slithering rhythms, setting a precedent for experimentalism. Regretfully so, the band’s sixth studio album release Widow’s Weeds pales in the spotlight, as melodramatic melodies gloss over the band’s potential.
Kicking off with an almost Echo and The Bunnymen drumbeat and synth arcade-game sounds, “It Doesn’t Matter Why” throws the band into voluntary tumult. With monotone backup vocals that purr, “Freakazoid” plays into paranoia with taunting bass and Muse-like rhythmic intensity. In a press release, lyricist and vocalist Brian Aubert warned his listeners that “the record does have a mourning vibe, but it’s not sad. It’s change. It’s growing up and moving on and letting go of things. And it’s okay to be sad about those things and mourn them. It’s actually healthy to do so and take the time to do it.” And this sensation definitely pervades the album, sometimes with fault.
With origins in Los Angeles and formed in 2000, the band’s music has a salvaged appeal. Silversun Pickups made shoegaze feel alive again but played with indie intentions that felt obscure and futuristic. The band’s newest release has proved rootless as if cast in the fragile framework of a generic album without their genuine sound. Vaguely reminiscent of their debut album, album title track “Widow’s Weeds” finds itself wedged in between bedroom pop and a ’90s Smashing Pumpkins musical style. Widow’s Weeds sure falls short in comparison with the rest of their discography, but remnants of their sound can be found throughout the album. The disappointment comes with a lack of experimentation in the melody, the drumbeat and the bassline. What once was a fresh take on indie rock is now becoming overbearing lyrical repetition and rippling currents of dull melody.