Silversun Pickups - Physical Thrills

Regular price $ 39.99

Bookending a drastic time of change for the band (and the world), Silversun Pickups' sixth studio set, Physical Thrills, arrived three years after their prior LP, Widow's Weeds. When promotion for that album was halted by a global pandemic, lead vocalist and guitarist Brian Aubert got to work on new music, once again with famed producer Butch Vig in tow. The resulting effort improved upon Weeds with a little more of the bite and urgency that the band is known for, balancing the cinematic scope of 2012's Neck of the Woods (like on "Stillness [Way Beyond]") with the unfettered, band-forward approach of early albums like 2006's Carnavas (they even revisit that album's "Dream at Tempo" interlude with a trio of hazy, melodic siblings). Despite being a "pandemic record," Physical Thrills is not a dour, hardened affair. Instead invigorated, Aubert and the band -- bassist Nikki Monninger, drummer Christopher Guanlao, and keyboardist Joe Lester -- flexed their creative muscles and pushed their personal boundaries, whether that was with Guanlao's Beatles-inspired drum fills, Lester's piano-backed compositions ("We Won't Come Out"), Aubert's increased shoegaze fuzz, or Monninger stepping up to the mike. Indeed, that solo showcase -- the dreamy, horn-backed "Alone on a Hill" -- is one of the album's finest moments. For classic Silversun Pickups cuts, the urgent "Hereafter (Way After)" rides a persistent piano riff as Guanlao and Aubert propel the track toward an uncertain horizon, while the bombastic wah-wah effect on "Scared Together" pummels the eardrums as the band whips anxiety and paranoia into a frantic closing storm of riffs and percussion. With its handclaps and harmonies, the airy "Empty Nest" is one of the most pleasant, toe-tapping pop moments of the set, just as "We Won't Come Out" sounds like the band is floating through an ocean inside a bubble, one that gets violently popped by a rabid guitar attack destined to be a live favorite. Finally, as if these aforementioned highlights weren't rousing enough, "System Error" is an album standout that tops an elastic bassline with a riotous guitar solo and drum bashing, which all come together at the close in a shiver-inducing key change from Aubert and Monninger. Bouncing back from such a tumultuous few years of unexpected turmoil, Silversun Pickups maintained their momentum and even managed to build upon their usual bag of tricks. Physical Thrills lives up to the title, delivering one of the band's best statements to date.

Stillness (Way Beyond)
Sticks And Stones
Hereafter (Way After)
Dream At Tempo 050
Scared Together
Alone On A Hill
Hidden Moon
System Error
Empty Nest
Dream At Tempo 310
We Won't Come Out
Stay Down (Way Down)
Dream At Tempo 150