Silversun Pickups are:
Brian Aubert – vocals, guitar
Nikki Monninger – bass
Chris Guanlao – drums
Joe Lester – keyboards
Silversun Pickups – The Singles Collection
1. Kissing Families
2. Lazy Eye
3. Well Thought Out Twinkles
4. Little Lover's So Polite
5. Panic Switch
7. The Royal We
8. Blood Mary (Nerve Endings)
9. The Pit
10. Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)
Running time: 54:00
The idea of an indie rock band, especially one that hasn't achieved global success on the level of a Radiohead or an Arcade Fire, putting out a "singles collection" is really rather puzzling. If I was a cynical man, I'd go as far as to say the idea was nothing but an idea to plough cash out of a fan base. On the other hand, it is quite conceivable that Silversun Pickups know something that we don't, that it's likely to be a good long while before we treated with new material and as such, a compilation of their biggest tracks to date is a way of appeasing fans and to keep them in the minds of the general music listener. Either way, after just three full lengths album, Silversun Pickups offer up The Singles Collection and you won't be surprised to hear that it's... a collection of their singles. Such a concept seems daft if for no other reason than fans of the band won't necessarily be interested in singles and will all have their own favourites tracks, so maybe a “Best of” was the way to go, but who am I to argue?
Regardless of my feelings toward the concept, there's no denying that this a tremendous collection of material. If you were unfamiliar with the band beforehand, you would not release that this was a collection of their most well known tracks, simply because in then years, the band has barely played with their signature sound whatsoever and as such the whole record runs as if it were a new studio record. Kicking off the party is “Kissing Families,” the gritty epic from the band's debut EP Pikul, which is a nice inclusion. “Lazy Eye” and “Well Though Out Twinkles” are probably the two most well-known tracks from the band's debut Carnavus, and they sound as hauntingly organic now as they did back in 2006. “Little Lover's So Polite” is also featured, and stands as one of the band's best ever showcases for the unique vocal styling of singer Brian Aubert, who I can only really liken to Placebo's Brian Molko in terms of a signature vocal.
Perhaps the band's brightest and most memorable moments came from the stunningly-awesome 2009 effort Swoon, from which three tracks are featured here. “Panic Switch” is a frantic belter of a track and remains the band's most successful single to date. It features sprawling guitars that pummel the ear drums and a melodic chorus that brings you along for the journey. It's always been one of the band's better singles and sits nicely in the middle of this offering. “Substitution” and “The Royal We” follow, also from Swoon, the former with it's slow build to a belting chorus, and the latter another understated example of effortless song-writer from a band well-versed in sonic soundscapes. The inclusions of these singles also highlights an issue with a singles collection – there's often better songs on studio albums that were never singles, and then you wonder why they didn't for the “Best of” approach. Regardless, there's no bad songs on this record.
To highlight this point further, however, the three tracks featured from Silversun Pickups' 2012 release Neck of the Woods were among that record's weakest offerings. Thankfully it was another very well-written, and equally well delivered record so there's no instance of the quality being dragged down here. “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” is another example of the band building a song, from gradual, frenetic opening to scattered guitars and drums centring around a towering chorus. “The Pit” is perhaps one of the only tracks that doesn't sound exactly like a Silversun Pickups song, with a much more electronic influence and use of synths and keyboards prominent throughout the track. It's no bad song though, and lyrically it's among the band's best. “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” puts another tick in the win column for a band that knows how to write an anthem. The vocals and lyrics are much more sinister than the majority of the band's releases, and though we're used to Silversun Pickups taking us to dark and often demented places, this time it feels like we've got no choice. The record concludes with the only piece of new material, “Cannibal,” and's another track that relies heavily on electronics, though this sounds more like a traditional band track. The drums sound vital here, and the guitar provide some mind-bending riffs early on.
Though the album is of considerable length, you'll notice there's a mere 11 tracks here, which is considerably few for a Singles Collection. Missing is “Seasick,” a track that was released for Record Store Day a few years ago, and “Broken Bottles,” which came with it. “Future Foes Scenarios” was released from the band's debut but didn't make it here, for whatever reason. And while an hour is enough for any record, these omissions only add to the puzzlement of why this collection was released in the first place. Regardless, if you're not a fan of Silversun Pickups already, this is a solid place to start.
Silversun Pickups - “The Royal We”
The 411: Fans of Silversun Pickups will already know how good this record is, and if you're not already a fan, I suggest you pick this up and start here. Sure, it's not as good as any of their three studio albums and the fact that this collection has been put out at all seems a bit peculiar to me, but that's not to say the material presented here isn't top notch. Brian Aubert is a wonderful vocalist and one of the finest song-writers in modern indie rock, so it goes without saying that this is a great piece of work and one that should be enjoyed by any and all who come across it. The best and worst part about The Singles Collection is that it doesn't even highlight Silversun Pickups at their very best.