With their organic but richly atmospheric sound, Los Angeles alternative rock band Silversun Pickups helped put the über-hip Silver Lake scene on the map with their critical and commercial success in the 21st century. Debuting in 2005, they were indie radio favorites until their mainstream breakthrough, Swoon, arrived in 2009. With each subsequent album, the band continued to evolve, incorporating orchestral elements and synth sheen to their driving sound with albums such as 2012's chart-peak Neck of the Woods and 2019's Butch Vig-produced Widow's Weeds.
Formed in 2002, the group initially performed under the moniker A Couple of Couples. That original handle reflected the fact that in the band's first lineup, lead guitarist Brian Aubert was romantically involved with drummer Elvira Gonzalez, while rhythm guitarist Jack Kennedy was in a relationship with bassist Nikki Monninger. However, after both couples broke up, the group went through some personnel changes, and in 2003 Gonzalez and Kennedy left the band, with keyboard player Joe Lester taking over for the absent guitarist and Christopher Guanlao becoming their new drummer. Taking on the new name Silversun Pickups, the group became regulars at trendy rock clubs such as Spaceland and the Silverlake Lounge, and developed a committed fan following.
In July 2005, Silversun Pickups released their debut EP, a six-song set (seven, including the hidden bonus track) called Pikul. The EP was released by noted indie label Dangerbird Records, which brought out the group's first full-length album, Carnavas, in September 2006. Carnavas fared well enough to land two songs in the Top Ten of Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart, "Well Thought Out Twinkles" and "Lazy Eye," and peaked at number 80 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart, while the group toured in support, sharing stages with with Wolfmother, Snow Patrol, and OK Go in the United States and opening for the Foo Fighters in the U.K.
The success of Carnavas set the stage for Swoon, which appeared in April 2009 and made an impressive debut, entering the Top 200 Albums chart at number seven. The album's success led to the band being nominated for a Best New Artist prize at the 2010 Grammy Awards, which became a subject of angry and bemused conversation among the group's fans, given that Silversun Pickups were far from newcomers by then. May 2012 brought another studio set, Neck of the Woods (produced by Jacknife Lee), and their highest chart showing to date, peaking at number six on the Billboard 200. The band also performed high-profile dates at many major music festivals in North America, though bassist Nikki Monninger was forced to sit out a number of shows in 2012 and 2013 due to pregnancy, with Sarah Negahdari of the Happy Hollows temporarily taking her place. For their final release with longtime label Dangerbird, they issued The Singles Collection, a compilation that bundled their EP and album singles with previously unreleased tracks "Cannibal" and "Devils Cup."
In 2015, Silversun Pickups formed their own label, New Machine Records, which they launched with their fourth full-length album, Better Nature. Including singles "Latchkey Kids" and "Nightlight," the set peaked within the Top 20 of the Billboard 200. The synth-friendly release received a reimagining in 2017 with Better Nature (Revisited), which featured remixes of the album's three singles by MNDR, JR JR, and Joywave, as well as acoustic versions of the same tracks. Following the promotion of Better Nature, Aubert sought help for emotional health and struggles with sobriety, which informed the band's next effort. Arriving in 2019, Widow's Weeds was produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Garbage) and included the singles "It Doesn't Matter Why" and "Freakazoid." ~ Mark Deming & Neil Z. Yeung