Rating – 8/10
Swoon is alternative rock band Silversun Pickups’ second album, released in 2009 to generally positive reviews. Heavy bass and drums mixed with a fuzzy overdrive guitar tone gives Swoon a very unpolished feeling, which feeds Silversun Pickups’ garage-band-esque style.
The album opens strong with “There’s No Secrets This Year”, which sets the tone for the rest of Swoon. Nikki Monninger’s vocals are both rough and soothing at the same time, adding to the gritty feeling of the music. Her voice aligns perfectly with Brian Aubert’s, who, in addition to playing guitar, provides backup vocals which stand out in this opening track. As the song ends, the instruments keep ringing and flow into the next song without pause. Monninger sings one last line, which establishes the general theme for the rest of the album: “Better make sure you’re looking closely/Before you fall into your swoon.”
“The Royal We” picks up the pace with an aggressive call to action that transitions into the more mellow “Growing Old Is Getting Old.” In this track, the guitars take a backseat to a heavy bass drum and driving bass guitar lick. As Monninger laments about growing old, the song eventually builds into what the listener has come to expect from the band thus far.
Tracks such as “It’s Nice To Know You Work Alone” and “Sort Of” introduce more themes that persist throughout the album’s lyrics: sarcasm and metaphor. “My head is reeling/It’s nice to know you work alone,” Monninger sings as she confronts a cheating partner, her voice dripping with sarcasm and vitriol. “Catch and Release” conflates relationships with hunting, comparing someone who quickly goes through partners with a hunter who lures, captures, and releases their prey.
“Panic Switch” and “Draining” show off more of the band’s harmonic vocals, as well as their powerful basslines. “Substitution” picks up in intensity, bringing back the aggressive feelings drawn in “The Royal We” earlier in the album. Swoon ends almost hauntingly with “Surrounded”, keeping with the theme of a dysfunctional relationship. The song ends with one simple line: “Is it perfect in our little hell?”
Swoon manages to stay consistent throughout its 51 minute runtime, never really varying from its themes musically or lyrically, but this works in keeping the album feeling unified and more like a well-thought concept instead of a collection of songs. Unfortunately, all of the songs run a little bit too long. They consistently fall around five minutes in length, and this can cause some of the songs to drag on a bit. The album overall would benefit from shaving about a minute off of most of the songs. This is a mild criticism, however, and should not dissuade any fans of alternative rock or post-punk from checking out this well-made album.