Neon Ballroom, Silverchair’s follow up to their first two platinum albums, Frogstomp and Freak Show, is their best work to date. In listening to this album, it’s scary to think that these guys are only nineteen years old. Their maturity, and yet also their naivete, make up a distinctive package.
The first and best track, “Emotion Sickness”, features famed classical pianist David Helfgott’s crazy genius. Helfgott, whose life and career inspired the motion picture Shine, proves that classical piano and rock ‘n’ roll aren’t such distant cousins. His piano pieces are schizophrenic, a perfect match for this song.
Although the first single, “Anthem For The Year 2000”, boasts a big chorus and climactic construction, it quickly becomes tired when heard over and over again, whereas “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” is like an old shirt; it becomes more natural and fits better after each listen. Daniel Johns showcases his gruff, yet sympathetic voice and though much like a Nirvana ballad soft-heavy-soft-heavy the up and down is rife with emotion and is quite nice. They can’t seem to shake their admiration for Nirvana, especially on the track “Dearest Helpless” which is much like “Heart-Shaped Box”.
Though this album is full of ballads, “Miss You Love” is the most passionate. Its life is full of sadness from a tortured soul. The song is a bulls-eye on an often-missed target.
The fans of the angry, heavy Silverchair won’t be let down either. “Spawn Again” is reminiscent of the super-angry Henry Rollins during his Black Flag days. “Satin Sheets” is a two-minute punk terror. With heavy, crunching guitars Silverchair doesn’t let you forget their roots.
This album seems to be much more emotional than Silverchair’s previous releases. The highs and lows add the much needed depth that had been missing from past albums and the addition of an orchestra throughout much of this album adds a dimension that will not be explained in words. Neon Ballroom makes a u-turn from one song to the next and leads you to wonder if in fact a straight line is always the most desired route.
+ rae gun