Silverchair’s Diorama is a dramatic change of sound for a band once dubbed “Nirvana in Pyjamas”. Diorama bares little resemblance to Silverchair’s grungy past. If we had any hints where they were going on previous records, then ‘Emotion Sickness’ off Neon Ballroom comes to find. Diorama is one bold move and one that will lose them old fans and gain them some new.
The creative output of Daniel Johns on this record almost overshadows the input from Ben Gillies and Chris Joannou. Johns has written all of the songs and therefore takes full responsibility for this new sound. It is big and orchestrated. It’s hard to imagine all three members of a band going off at a tangent like this all at the one time. Maybe Diorama should have been a Johns solo album but it isn’t.
Track 1 – “Across the Night”. This starts off as an acoustic ballad before the orchestral arrangements of Van Dyke Parks set in. Parks is best known for his work with Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. He comes from a world away from Silverchair not to mention the two generation age gap. This is opposites attracting, and take the Silverchair name out of the mix and you have a stunning piece of music. Parks gives a similar treatment to “Tuna in the Brine” and “Luv Your Life”. Again, three musical masterpieces, but you have to remove the Silverchair name to appreciate it.
Acoustic songs, orchestrated pieces… this is not a Silverchair we are used to. The overall tempo is slow. “World Upon Your Shoulders” and “My Favourite Thing” show equal musical restraint. The team that produced these songs also did the single “The Greatest View”.
That old sound hasn’t completely been removed. “One Way Mule” is vintage ‘Chair. Jim Moginie from Midnight Oil plays piano and keyboards on the track. Likewise ‘The Lever’ rocks. But they are the only two songs on this entire album that will appeal to the old fanbase.
The final song “After All These Years” is piano based ballad.
Musically, this album is a masterpiece… if you can just get past the fact that it is Silverchair.