Silverchair Diorama

When Australia's cute boys Silverchair first arrived on the alt-rock scene, I have to admit, I liked them. There was something in their youthful and naive lyrics, their imperfections as players and their almost frightful and unabashed imitation of other bands that appealed to me. But their last two records have shown a progression I disliked intensely. Diorama sounds more like the soundtrack to a Broadway play than it does a rock record. Vocalist Daniel Johns has forced his fascination with orchestration (particularly the kind that made Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond famous) on the band in a way that sounds more and more disjointed with each song on the record. Truer rock'n'roll tracks like "One Way Mule" and "Too Much of Not Enough" tease with crunchier guitar work and deeper bass lines but, in the end, the record just doesn't launch. Apparently those are just nicely placed singles for alternative rock radio. (Warner)