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With front man Daniel Johns at the helm, Silverchair refuses to do the same thing twice. When the Australian trio released their first album, Frogstomp, in 1995, they were merely 15 years old. Each new album since has been a dramatic departure from the last, and the band eventually shed their sticky grunge image with 2002s Diorama. A returning cast of producer Nick Launay (INXS, Talking Heads), mixer David Bottrill (Tool, Muse), and legendary composer Van Dyke Parks (U2, Beach Boys) coddled Young Modern--yet another completely different version of Silverchair. The lyrics are pensive, the melodies cathartic, and the music is distinctly refined. Having already proven his epic vocal ability, Johns appeals to more creativity and experimentation this time around. He retains his singing style, but at times he is reminiscent of AC/DC's Brian Johnson, at others of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. Listeners will be shocked to learn that the upbeat opening track, "Young Modern Station," is the heaviest rock song on the record. "Straight Lines" is a celebratory pop fête, and "If You Keep Losing Sleep" makes Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" sound almost docile. Van Dyke Parks's renowned talent shines on the tracks with orchestral arrangements like "All Across the World" and the three-part epic "Those Thieving Birds." The entire album is seamless and offers new facets with each listen. Once again, Silverchair has clearly taken another giant step forward. --Jordan Thompson
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Young Modern is WEIRD. Daniel knows it - he over-warbles and tinges his voice with self mockery. Quirky noises and backing vocals take the place of loud guitar sounds. He's stopped taking himself so seriously - and the results are akin to a band going 'Wheeeee!'
By coincidence or on purpose, the first single, Straight Lines, is by far the straightest song on the album. It's very pretty, and comes complete with singable verse, singable chorus, and singable bridge. The rest of the tracks sound like impish tree monkeys throwing nuts at normal music. I can't separate songs so well here - it's a massive casserole of awesomeness. Daniel still loves to write songs with two or three key changes per verse, but this time the entire mood changes with it, swerving from sentimental to ridiculous and back again. The band can still play about ten different genres, but here they do it all in the same song instead of alternating during the tracklist.
The thing that always bugged me about Neon Ballroom is that the heavy songs all sound like filler. The ones on Diorama are better, but they still feel like a `break' from the real music. On Young Modern, there is no break. It's fluctuous acrobatics all the way through. This is the band that put flutes in the middle of `Dearest Helpless' and joyful `doo doo doo's into the refrain of `Luv Your Life'. The melodies soar, as do the symphonic parts. It's a sonic soup of genius, a flying musical circus.
A few tentative favorites are `Young Modern Station', `If You Keep Losing Sleep', `Mind Reader', and `Insomnia', but that's likely to change tomorrow.
The closest that Daniel gets to angst on this album comes only in lyrical spurts. He references past health problems ("So sick of getting sicker") and seems to have retained some lovely gender issues also tackled on previous albums ("I'm a sex change / A damsel with no heroine"). But for the majority of the playing time there is nothing to suggest he isn't happy as a lark. Which, coming from this silverchair fan, is incredibly refreshing. Some might prefer the depressed, anorexic Daniel and the `anger' it brought. But on the opposite side of angst is a bizarrely flavored poetry, one that tangs the tongue and tickles your mouth into an inevitably wide grin. Try to stop it. I dare you.
The lyrics and singing are also very, VERY boring. Not once, during the entire album, did I think "Hmm, that's an interesting piece of writing." Daniel Johns' obviously tries to make his vocals inspired and epic....ultimately they fall way short of the mark.
In summation: This album is NOT rock. Or pop. IMO it barely classifies as music with it's horrible structure and unending monotony. If you want an album that rocks, is epic, has great vocals, and knows exactly how to use an orchestral/keyboard arrangement to enhance the music....buy Within Temptations "The Heart of Everything"........and leave YOUNG MODERN where it belongs: the dustbin.
Overall, their weakest album by a mile.
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An absolute must for the fans.