Silverchair: Young Modern

Young Modern
Eleven Records

High-strung and theoretical, Silverchair's Young Modern deflates its own cleverness with multiplied backing vocals and chord changes that drop through trapdoors. Australians whose creamy avidity takes the baroque tendencies of forefathers such as the Easybeats to places Vanda and Young would be interested to visit, they've used the five years since their last batch of originals to check things out. They now sound pleasantly overwhelmed, well-traveled, and happy to be alive.

This is dense music, with mutating structures whose Beach Boys harmonies, Big Star guitar dislocations, and electric piano jabs recall any number of nervous popsters. If "Waiting All Day" sounds like the Zombies, or if "If I Keep Losing Sleep" recalls the dB's of Stands for Decibels, auteur Daniel Johns comes across like a man of at least two minds about everything. From the sun-baked slide guitar of "Low" to Van Dyke Parks's string arrangements, Young Modern staggers around and gets away with it, making it sound like fun.

Still, Modern bares its soul—for what that's worth. In "Straight Lines," Johns is "racing through the void in my head." Elsewhere, he decides, "I'll move on back to the country." Fat chance. He's hooked on glamour and overload, which get him closer to the home he's too modern (if not too young) to desire. This is pop as evasion, except that he sounds sincere on the closer when he sings, "We can break this drought/Wanna tell you that I love ya, I need ya, in the night."

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