Silverchair Young Moderns

For any who missed the critical step of Silverchair’s previous outings, orchestral pop opus Diorama and or self-titled side project the Dissociatives, songwriter Daniel Johns’ foray into experimental territory with unofficial fourth chair Paul Mac (a classically trained electronics wizard), Young Moderns comes as quite a surprise. The last traces of their grunge rock youth have been stripped away, replaced by a vast and lush audio palette drawn from with tasteful reserve. Rising in a swell of electric keys and tremolo guitars, the title track delivers the hardest rocker up front, but only with a short verse riff backed by vigorous disco punk drumming, before hitting the chorus and opening the floodgates of Silverchair’s morphological orchestral psych pop modus operandi. Strangely cohesive for an album bent on weaving together many disparate ideas, it’s pulled together by the comfortable confidence of Johns’ idiosyncratic writing. Highlights are frequent, from the carnival on Broadway vibe of "If You Keep Losing Sleep” to seven-minute mid-album epic "Those Thieving Birds/Strange Behavior” and the Bowie-funk meets Rolling Stones big band bombast of "The Man Who Knew Too Much.” Even when the territory threatens to get overly syrupy, a minor key change in just the right place transforms the melody into something fascinating. It’s time to forget that these guys had way cooler high school jobs than any of us — touring the world as multi-platinum rockers — and listen with open ears to what these bold young moderns have achieved: one of the most creative mainstream albums of the year. (Eleven/Warner)