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, Diorama — Young 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.