Silversun Pickups’ 2006 debut, Carnavas, seemed to arrive a dozen years too late. Awash in the guitar sounds of early-’90s alternative rock, the record recalled My Bloody Valentine (“Melatonin”), Veruca Salt (“Well Thought Out Twinkles”), and most conspicuously, Smashing Pumpkins (“Waste It On,” “Lazy Eye”). Of the possible eras to emulate, Silversun picked one just about due for a renaissance—which may help explain why the L.A. group caught on, especially with listeners who came of age when those sounds were new.
But dwelling on the band’s influences misses the point. Carnavas didn’t play like a best-of-the-’90s compilation. Neither does the new Swoon, which makes those sounds Silversun’s own. It isn’t a departure—thick, huge-sounding guitars propel the chorus in the opener “There’s No Secrets This Year”—but Swoon shows commendable growth. Like Carnavas, Silversun recorded it with producer Dave Cooley and mixed it with Tony Hoffer, but unlike that album, Swoon was tracked all at once, not in multiple sessions interrupted by touring. That lends the album a cohesion its predecessor lacked; Swoon sounds like Silversun taking its time, with a minimum of studio bloat (16-piece orchestra excepted). It lacks some of Carnavas’ instant pleasures, but Swoon finds Silversun Pickups on the right path.