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Music Review: Silverchair — Young Modern

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It was with some trepidation that I dropped Young Modern, the latest album by Silverchair, into my home stereo. One a devoted fan of the band, and especially of their talented front man Daniel Johns, I’m sorry to say that I’d lost the taste for the direction that he seemed determined to aim his musical sights.

Of course, I understand that a truly talented musician cannot keep repeating themselves and trying to maintain the same exact sound throughout their life and career, but when you work your way down a particular path for your first four albums and have as solid of a fan base as you can ever imagine… only to throw everyone a gigantic curveball and send your fifth album out on sonic ledges you’ve never even hinted at.

Seriously, the difference between the first four Silverchair albums and their fifth, Diorama, were jaw dropping. I’m not saying that the music on that album wasn’t beautiful and unique in a lovely way, but I’m also not sure that it wouldn’t be as jarring a listen to unprepared ears as it would be if Metallica suddenly decided that bluegrass was the perfect direction to head next.

It was just… weird and something that made me shy away from listening to Silverchair for quite a while. Of course, the fact that Silverchair seemed to drop off the face of the earth for a number of years — due to Daniel Johns health concerns — made it easier to dismiss the band as something akin to a rock engine that had seriously blown a gasket and was stranded along the road of my memory.

Of course, this all brings us to the point where I’m now listening to Young Modern, Silverchair’s latest album, and finally beginning to understand why the sonic detour that was Diorama was necessary. Merged into the churning guitar riffs and sublime rock sensibilities of the earlier incarnation of Silverchair, I can now hear the fruits of melody and lush instrumental harmonies that seem to have been born of that album’s seed.

While not as mainstream as their previous albums — minus, of course, DioramaYoung Modern is a damn nice album. Filled with moments of frantic guitar hooks, bouncy keyboards, and enough sheer talent flowing out of an apparently healthy and rejuvenated Daniel Johns to light up half the world… I just love it.

Having said that, I don’t think that this album will bring the band back to the heights of Frogstomp, Freak Show, or Neon Ballroom. No, those days are over and done with I’m afraid. What it will do — what it does do, actually, and quite well — is signal that this is a band determined to grow and allow itself and its sound to become whatever its slender muse of a front man can dream of…

I think I’m finally at a place and an age in my life when I can honestly say that that is pretty much all I can ever ask of a band. That, and whether it is okay or not if I climb back aboard and be counted as one of their fans, so that I can enjoy the ride as well.

Silverchair’s Young Modern is a really good album by a damned good band. I’m glad to see these guys back to playing rock music, and I’m glad I had a chance to review this album.

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About Michael Jones

  • Joel

    Nice review. Diorama was actually the band’s fourth studio album, though

  • http://myowncommotion.org Michael Jones

    Yeah, I noticed after this was posted that I’d scrambled up that part of it. The 5th was their Greatest hits.. and my mind just hardwired itself on thinking “If the new one is the 6th.. then the last one was the…” and I forgot the silly GH’s.

    Ah well. Have you given “Young Modern” a listen, yet?

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “…if Metallica suddenly decided that bluegrass was the perfect direction to head next.”

    Well, they(Metallica)basically ditched metal, I wouldn’t give’em any ideas.

    As for Silverchair, I think you have given them more stock than what they are worth. They were a drone band and nothing more. This album proves that Silverchair is still following the trend…

  • http://www.myspace.com/artemisian11 Artemisian

    “They were a drone band and nothing more. This album proves that Silverchair is still following the trend…”

    Drone band? Jesus. They started off as imitators; they admit themselves. They were 14, for God’s sakes. But they’ve grown in the last three albums to have a sound that is entirely their own. I can understand if it’s not to your taste, but they’re certainly not drones.

    “Having said that, I don’t think that this album will bring the band back to the heights of Frogstomp, Freak Show, or Neon Ballroom. No, those days are over and done with I’m afraid.”

    That’s pretty funny, actually. This has been their fastest-selling album ever, with four weeks at number one (their 5th consecutive no. 1), and double platinum in three weeks. ‘Straight Lines’ is their first no. 1 single since ‘Freak’. I mean … seriously. I don’t think people outside Australia quite get it. Direct quote: “The group has had more top twenty hits in Australian charts during the last decade than any other local artist”. What else do you want??

  • http://www.myspace.com/acrossthejetblacknight Allison

    I agree that ‘Diorama’ was pretty unexpectedly out there on my first impression, but when I went back and really listened to each of their previous albums in succession, I could hear the progression towards that flamboyant sound. Each album was a little more experimental than the last — but Diorama just took more of a giant leap from Neon Ballroom than NB took from Freak Show, and so on.

    That being said, I like Young Modern more than Diorama, as it feels more controlled and cohesive. And as much as I love the older stuff, it’s nice to finally hear Johns being optimistic about life. YM is an album you can actually kind of dance to, and it KICKS live.

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