My Morning Jacket
I Am Kloot
Tracklist1. Young Modern Station
2. Straight Lines
3. If You Keep Losing Sleep
4. Reflections of a Sound
5. Those Thieving Birds, Pt. 1
6. Man That Knew Too Much
7. Waiting All Day
8. Mind Reader
11. All Across the World
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A friend of mine from high school once told me the great thing about Silverchair records is that they reflect where you are in your life. The logic behind this idea was pretty simple: The guys in Silverchair are around our age; aside from their rabid fanbase, they live fairly normal lives; they listen to the same music as us; they know how to put their emotions and thoughts into a record. Solid logic and, until Young Modern, it made sense.
Frogstomp was all about anger towards friends from high school who did you wrong, about the little things that make a high schooler's life intolerable. Freakshow displayed this same character, only with some newer friends, a little more popularity, a little more maturity about how they'd deal with the hustle and bustle of life as the completion of their second decade, even if they still despised some of their contemporaries and had more than their fair share of self-loathing, despite the newfound acclaim. With Neon Ballroom, the maturity hinted at through songs like "Cemetery" and "The Door" came to fruition and the band presented a more balanced opinion and outlook on the world, showing more concern for those around them while still proudly baring their ideals and trying to prove that they were all grown up, even if they still had to ask to borrow the car on Friday nights. That and they'd moved on from pot and started to dig heroine (This claim is not based on factual evidence, but is based around the gaunt appearance of Daniel Johns at the time of this record).
2002's Diorama is where everything changed. Without a doubt, this album best represents Silverchair's "college years." All the signs are there: The drastic change in sound, style, and approach to songwriting, the nearly-complete separation of each individual within the group, the quirky lyrics twists. Clearly, these young men were coming into contact with a world they'd only read about in books or fantasized about while stuck in their dreary hometown with the same people and influences day in and day out, only now to be allowed to run amok amongst strangers with pasts and experiences entirely devoid of any similar threads to their own. They sought out new and alternate viewpoints, discovered things they'd never even imagined, and put it all to tape. The resulting album was a beast that drove a hammer down on longtime Silverchair fans, between those who went to university, those who went to junior college, those who went right into the work force, and those who kept trying to stay in high school (or were held back).
It's a divisive record, one which required more time than most people cared to give. Loaded with crazy ideas and devoid of any mild level of aggression, those who didn't see it coming couldn't comprehend it. Those who hadn't had the "same" experiences couldn't conceive of it. Naturally, it was a critical success and a commercial bomb. The events that followed this, the first mild failure for the band that proves the idea of American Idol can actually go right, are shrouded in mystery. The band nearly stopped touring and nary a word was said in regards to a new album. One can only assume Daniel Johns began to experiment even more with his styles of delivery, searching for more and more unique ways to express himself, met Paul Mac (fact), recorded an uneven Dissociatives album (fact), and seems to have found himself magnetically drawn to vocal alterations to help further his desire for new expressions, a complete departure from Diorama, wherein he refused to let the engineer so much as Auto-Tune a single note of his delivery.
So here we are, in 2007, with Silverchair's fifth album, Young Modern. It's a mind-boggling album. Nothing has quite defined the word "departure" as clearly as the difference between Diorama and Young Modern. If you were to give a long-time Silverchair fan this album with no hint as to what it was, there is nearly a zero percent chance he would attribute the music to this band. It simply would not happen. Nothing on this record bears even the slightest resemblance to past albums from this tremendous group. Instead of requiring the listener to exert full attention to it, listen after listen, over and over, in order to comprehend its majesty as they did with Diorama, Young Modern is simply a collection of unrelated material, an album which gives the listener much-needed freedom simply to enjoy the album for what it is, not what it wishes it were, to appreciate individual tracks instead of the album as a whole. While Diorama was grand, huge, and monstrous on an artistic scale, Young Modern is another thing entirely, choosing to align itself with no scale in particular.
It opens with "Young Modern Station," a huge rock anthem with dancefloor grooves aplenty and swagger to spare, before heading into lead single "Straight Lines," a straight-laced pop-rock gem that sees the band exploring a sound similar to that of the final Stabbing Westward album. Soft crooning and heavy self-doubt permeate the airwaves before the chorus brings it around to a more positive line of thought, realizing tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning, another chance at happiness. One could say it represents exactly what Young Modern is. You know, if that were true.
"Straight Lines" is followed by "If You Keep Losing Sleep," which is where this album really begins to grab its hold on the listener. Featuring the most massive orchestral sound since Metallica's S & M and the most schizophrenic vocal performance Johns has ever given, it's truly got something for everyone. Electronics blip and bloop, drums roll, strings squeal, voices snap coo snarl sooth doowop, bass thumps and booms, guitars jangle and bounce. It's energetic, lively, and a kick to the face of anyone stuck in a pop music rut. It's also where this track-by-track review ends, thank goodness.
From there, Silverchair bounces between 60s pop inspiration, 70s faux-blues, modernized cantina country, strange Bowie-like glam, and non-definable mishmashes, such as "Mind Reader," in which Silverchair channels a rump-shaking Rolling Stones cover band made up of members of McLusky who have siphoned the pop tendencies of The Blood Brothers and adopted the bravado of a Southern Baptist preacher. Can't make that up. It actually happens.
While the album stumbles through some inconsistencies overall and sounds nothing like any of their previous albums, it's hard not to recommend Young Modern to any former or current Silverchair listener. As for the rest of the world, it wouldn't do you a spot of harm to listen to "Those Thieving Birds" or "Insomnia" if you got the chance. And if those two tracks don't spark your interest, it's a solid, lifetime guarantee that you'll find at least one track on here that fits your fancy.
Although it doesn't really apply to this scenario, it also bears mentioning that the high school friend who made this fantastic revelation regarding Silverchair albums also told me that Creed was transcendental. Take it with a grain of salt if you must, but Young Modern is superb and only gets better with volume.