At last, Pikul is finally getting a release in the UK, having been originally released in 2004. Those of us already familiar with the band will know them from the critically lauded album Carnavas which saw the band state their claim as one of the more interesting guitar bands of recent years.
Pikul frequently finds the band in a far more laid back mood than on Carnavas. Indeed rather than the fairly straight forward approach adopted for their debut album, Pikul is moody throughout and hints at a more experimental edge to the band than perhaps Carnavas let on.
Opening with Kissing Families, things are as you might expect from Silversun Pickups; it’s not too far removed from Lazy Eye. That said, where Lazy Eye sounds almost perky, Kissing Families is verging on somnambulant. Brian Aubert’s vocals drift in and out of consciousness before kicking in with some real grit for the last verse.
When it comes to dynamics Silversun Pickups are virtually faultless and on Kissing Families, mood shifts are executed with expert precision. The song’s early sense of unease merely hints at violence, when it explodes with strangulated vocals right at the very end there is little to match it in terms of catharsis.
Much has been made of Aubert’s vocal resemblance to Billy Corgan, and indeed the band’s similarity to the early output of Smashing Pumpkins, but to simply discredit them as soundalikes would be doing them a grand disservice. A cursory listen to Pikul will hint at myriad influences, all of whom Silversun Pickups magnificently manage to adopt into their own sound. Booksmart Devil has hints of Slint about it while The Fuzz takes Kevin Shield’s original blueprint for My Bloody Valentine and completely rewires it.
Pikul shows a band that is very much at their best when gazing avidly at their shoes. Carnavas may have provided a much more immediate hit in terms of production and arrangements, but this EP is a slow burning little gem that shows a band very much on top of their game. If Silversun Pickups can revisit some of the beautiful haunting sounds they explored on this EP, their next album will find them hitting the heights they so obviously deserve.