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CD of The Week

Week of 8/22/22

    Silversun Pickups - Physical Thrills (New Machine / Q Prime)

    Long-time Y faves Silversun Pickups have returned with another mix of guitar theatrics and psychedelic haze on their sixth record. The quartet is back again with Physical Thrills, leaning into their recognizable sound while pushing it in a few different directions.

    Physical Thrills begins with the haunting “Stillness (Way Beyond)” over some very 90s wavering guitars. “Hereafter (Way After)” opens things up with nearly an arena-rock feel led by Joe Lester’s ‘80s pop keyboards. Singer/guitarist Brian Aubert becomes the latest lyricist to find ways to grapple with the pandemic era without being too on-the-nose. “Where is everyone going to be hereafter? / What is everyone going to see way after hereafter? / Do you wanna be alone with me hereafter? / Do you wanna stay home with me way after hereafter?”

    “Scared Together” also touches on feelings about the past 2+ years, as Aubert sings about how “We’re so much better when we’re scared together.” The unusual lead single’s real hook is its pounding talk box guitar riff, which feels like something Matt Bellamy of Muse would pull out of his bag of effects pedal tricks.

    Nikki Moninger's always-welcome bass gets its time to shine on the epic rocker “System Error,” while she takes over lead vocals on the lovely “Alone on a Hill.”

    Physical Thrills has some of the trippiest SSPU songs, twisting and turning and haunting. This includes the quirky rhythms of the stripped-back “Sticks and Stones” and the start-and-stop rocker “Hidden Moon,” which takes the listener through some interesting swerves and sonics. “We Won’t Come Out” flips shoegaze-y verses and exploding Aubert guitar riffage.

    On Physical Thrills, SSPU don’t experiment with their musical identity so much as the song structures themselves. This approach didn’t lead to the catchiest, verse-chorus-verse tunes of their career but some of the more interesting ones, thanks to their unique songcraft and surprise tempo changes. You can tell that Physical Thrills surely gave the band a thrill making it.

    Silversun Pickups will make their physical return to The Fillmore on November 9th.

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    Review by Joey O.

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