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Music / Silversun Pickups

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From left to right: Joe Lester, Chris Guanlao, Nikki Monninger, Brian Aubert

Silversun Pickups are a Los Angeles Shoegaze band who have steadily gained popularity, starting in the 2000s with the release of their debut, Pikul. The current lineup consists of Brian Aubert, Nikki Monninger, Joe Lester, and Chris Guanlao. The band name is derived from a liquor store close to where the band members used to live; whoever's job it was to obtain booze was making the "Silversun Pickup", as it was called. It eventually became the band's name.

Two of their songs, "Lazy Eye" (from Carnavas) and "There's No Secrets This Year" (from Swoon), have appeared in separate Guitar Hero games. "Panic Switch" (also from Swoon) has appeared in Rocksmith. Other relatively well-known songs include "Well Thought Out Twinkles", "The Pit" and "The Royal We".


  • Pikul EP (2005)
  • Carnavas (2006)
  • Swoon (2009)
  • Seasick EP (2011)
  • Neck of the Woods (2012)
  • Better Nature (2015)
  • Widow's Weeds (2019)
  • Physical Thrills (2022)


  • Album Title Drop: For Swoon, occurs during the outro to "There's No Secrets This Year".
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: "Mean Spirits" seems to be about this.
  • B-Side: The "Seasick" EP contains three "Swoon" outtakes.
  • Cover Version: They have done a cover of "Toy Soldiers" by Martika.
  • Darker and Edgier: Neck of the Woods is a lot more ominous and gothic than their other albums.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the lyrics are written like this. "It's Nice to Know You Work Alone", for example - the title alone sounds like it's in Sarcasm Mode.
    • Brian Aubert is pretty fond of deadpan humor in real life as well.
  • Driven to Suicide: One popular interpretation of "Dots and Dashes" is that it's about a man discovering that his significant other has hung herself.
  • Epic Rocking: "All the Go-Inbetweens", at a running time of 7:49, is definitely the longest song in their catalogue. The runner up is "Simmer", at 6:50, but both definitely count.
  • Female Rockers Play Bass: Monninger is primarily the bassist.
  • Genre-Busting: They play a Dream Pop/Grunge/College Rock hybrid. With, as of Neck of the Woods, some Industrial Metal, Goth Rock, and Electronic Music influences.
  • Genre Roulette: Neck of the Woods. "The Pit" is a techno-shoegaze hybrid; "Mean Spirits" is borderline Heavy Metal; "Skin Graphs" has an apparent Nine Inch Nails influence.
  • Identical Stranger: Musical example. They had never even listened to The Smashing Pumpkins until after the recording of Carnavas, so they were taken by surprise when they discovered that everyone was talking about how much they sound like the Pumpkins.
  • Isn't It Ironic?: Mitt Romney played the song "Panic Switch", an ode to paranoia and anxiety, before several campaign rallies, without the band's permission. Although they eventually asked for the campaign to stop using their music, the band said they "were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that 'Panic Switch' really sends the message he intends."
  • Last Note Nightmare: Downplayed by "There's No Secrets This Year", which fades back in just in time to provide Swoon's Album Title Drop. Played straight by "Mean Spirits".
    • Twice more in Carnavas; "Little Lover's So Polite" ends with a long feedback sound, as does "Common Reactor", which is longer still.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: At least half of their discography has this. They sound bright and cheery, but a close look at the lyrics reveals that most of them are anything but.
  • Lyrics/Video Mismatch: "Dots and Dashes" seems to lyrically be about ghosts or suicide; the video is a lesbian love story.f
  • Major Injury Underreaction: From "The Royal We": Your throat has been cut several times before / Never noticed the size of the flow...
  • Meaningful Name: "Out Of Breath" from Neck of the Woods. It's about continuing a relationship despite being fed up with it, but the title itself can also be the appropriate thing to say at the end of an album.
  • Musicalis Interruptus: Used in the video for "Substitution". Justified in that the band is playing the song for a game of Musical Chairs.
  • New Sound Album: Neck of the Woods is borderline Goth Rock with electronic and industrial influences.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: The narrator of "Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)."
    If we stay up long enough/we can play with Bloody Mary/she'll chase us through the dark/activate our nerve endings.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Well Thought Out Twinkles", "Three Seed". "Dream at Tempo 119" is a partial example, as the words "Tempo 119" appear in the song, but not "Dream".
    • Subverted with "The Royal We." It doesn't show up at first, but the title is eventually used in a title-only outro.
  • Off with His Head!: "Make Believe", which appears to be from the perspective of a lunatic. "I will sentence everyone/over 21/to the guillotine!"
  • Performance Video: The "Kissing Families" video starts out as this, but then Nikki's clumsiness ends up knocking over all the equipment.
    • The video for "Lazy Eye" also counts - the band is performing in a club. "Substitution" takes this a step further - the band is playing the song for...a game of musical chairs.
  • Precision F-Strike: Up until Widow's Weeds in 2019, the Silversun Pickups never curse in their music, but their reaction to Game of Thrones's Red Wedding on Twitter certainly qualifies.
    • The line "Do you ever think when this shit hit the brink" in "Neon Wound" is responsible for making Widow's Weeds their first album to receive a Parental Advisory warning on iTunes and Spotify.
  • "Psycho" Strings: "It's Nice To Know You Work Alone" ends with this.
  • The Royal We: They named a song after it.
  • Self-Deprecating Humor: The band loves taking shots at themselves whenever they get the chance (i.e. talking about how it's amazing that people compare them to "real" bands, etc). The chorus of "It Doesn't Matter Why" ("It doesn't matter why we're known/We're just known") could be a subtle example of this.
  • Serious Business: Nope. They didn't expect to be particularly successful and are mostly just enjoying the ride.
    • The game of musical chairs in the "Substitution" video, to the point where two of the contestants are on the verge of fighting at one point.
  • Shoegaze: Where they have their roots. Pikul and Carnavas are pretty straightforward shoegaze, while Swoon and Neck of the Woods branch out into various other genres.
  • Shout-Out: The riff and structure of "Well Thought Out Twinkles" resembles My Bloody Valentine's "Only Shallow" just enough that it comes off more as a time-traveling Shoegaze high-five rather than a ripoff. The lyrics can also be interpreted as being about how Loveless killed the shoegaze genre.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Nikki Monninger sings lead on "Alone on a Hill", the second single from Physical Thrills. She also has previously sung in "Ribbons and Detours", from the Seasick EP.
  • Stop and Go: "Mean Spirits", "Dream at Tempo 119", "The Pit"
  • Word Salad Title: They love these. Their titles are usually in-jokes, family references, or just plain odd. "Well Thought Out Twinkles" and "Future Foe Scenarios" are two of their more well-known examples.