August 2, 2007

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Silverchair, Young Modern
Eleven/EMI Records, 2007

From ripping off Pearl Jam in their 1995 debut to using Muse as a rough template today, Australia’s Silverchair continue to demonstrate their ability to survive any musical craze. The 5-year gap between 2002’s Diorama and Young Modern was filled getting Daniel Johns’ brain to function again, or so we’re led to believe – the arthritis and the eating disorder probably took a back seat to his catching up with all the girls he was too young to take out on dates back in the Frogstomp days. Eh? Well yes, it’s the same Silverchair that sang “Tomorrow” back in 1992 when they were 15-year-olds, but they’re no longer grunge’s answer to the Hardy Boys, they’re an alt-rock behemoth that tops the Australian charts whenever they burp loud enough to be caught on mike. Whatever mysterious overseer writes their songs is mad into Tom Waits, Muse and Arcade Fire of late, but there are other well-put-together, cockeyed little ’70s/nu-’70s aspects that are harder to identify, not that US radio would kick them out of bed. One song’s unintentionally funny in a Wacko Jacko kind of way – “Young Modern Station” sounds like Versus doing a cover of the Sesame Street theme song (somebody lose a childhood over here?). Mostly, though, the writing is fine, erecting an album that regular mall-alt joes would stack next to their Maroon 5 CDs. Local fans will be overjoyed to know that the band’s tour manager, after booking them into 4,000-and-up-seaters like NYC’s Roseland Ballroom and the Montreal Forum, was stuffing them into the 650-seat Paradise for their 7/29 Boston visit. Oh, and it was sold out for weeks, how nutty, go figure. A-Eric W. Saeger