The pubescent Australian pop sensation Silverchair reaffirms its critics’ accusations with its new album, Neon Ballroom (Epic) – it is nothing more than a trio of untalented pretty boys with a penchant for making lousy music.
On the 12-song album, the band alternates between orchestrated, mellow love songs and the edgy, angst-ridden rock songs that made a world of teenage girls collectively swoon a few years ago.
It’s no secret that Silverchair was never a band that was expected to reach legendary status. After being discovered in their native Australia, singer/guitarist Daniel Johns, drummer Ben Gillies and bassist Chris Joannou gained popularity with their boyish looks and radio-friendly music from their first album, Frogstomp. Although the debut album helped the band gain international recognition, it was bashed by many music critics for its lack of originality.
Silverchair has come a long way since its early days. It now is represented by a major label. On “Emotion Sickness,” the first track of Neon Ballroom, renowned eccentric piano sensation and Shine movie subject David Helfgott makes an appearance. Despite the improvements, the album displays few signs of skill or song-writing ability.
As the album jumps back and forth between sappy acoustic songs such as “Ana’s Song” and “Miss You Love” and hard-core influenced tracks such as “Spawn Again,” you feel as if you’re listening to a group of tenth graders practicing for a school talent show. The only difference is that Silverchair’s financial support allows for fancy studio production and professional orchestration.
The worst part of Neon Ballroom, however, is the hype. It’s been promoted as a departure from the band’s immature beginnings to a more experienced, serious approach about real issues.
Unfortunately, Silverchair needs a serious image about as much as the Backstreet Boys need a political album about the situation in Northern Ireland. As you listen to Johns sing “we are the youth/we’ll take your fascism away,” you cringe at the idea of teen-pop bands trying to make a profound statement about the world around them.
Instead, Silverchair should stick to what made the band famous in the first place. While playing off the band members’ charming smiles and flowing blonde hair won’t gain the band respect, at least there’s no mistaking who Silverchair is targeting with its image. When that same band tries to appeal to a more mature audience by changing its image, the only mistake is buying its album.