Silversun Pickups: Better Nature

LA alt.rockers turn up the Sunset synths.

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Is there a sound more evocative of night drives down Sunset Strip in the summer than 80s synth rock? It’s Less Than Zero, it’s Swingers, it’s Silversun Pickups rolling up their blazer sleeves, plumping their shoulderpads and cruising out of Silver Lake, LA with a fourth album that buzzes like pink neon and rolls like convertible wheels on steaming tarmac.

Turning down their Smashing Pumpkins scorches, Better Nature embraces the swirling synthetics of Metric, Garbage, Mew and Enter Shikari to sizzling effect. Brian Aubert and Nikki Monninger’s gauzy android harmonies drift across brutalist slashes of krautpop on tracks like_ Cradle (Better Nature)_ and the party tune for fatherless outsiders Latchkey Kids and, somewhere in the distance, 1986 Mickey Rourke sniffs the air, sensing adventure.

For a record wading deeper into electronica than the Pickups have ventured before, it’s surprisingly anti-tech in parts. Connection decries the millennials losing the human touch by being ‘plugged into the new machines, laser focussed on the screens’ while Pins And Needles finds itself wrapped up in ‘trends and heydays’ with ‘friends and strangers… of steamy nature coming on strong, but sooner or later a curtain calls on misbehaviour’. Rock’s first Tinder warning anthem? Maybe, but SP’s synth pop side is a firm swipe right.

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.