Review: Freak Show, Silverchair (Sony Music)
By Paul Gargano (Hit Parader)
There's nothing more humbling than having to admit you're wrong.
Unless, of course, you need to admit it to one million teenage girls.
It was at least that many that brought silverchair's debut, frogstomp and you know what? No matter their reasons -- whether it was lead singer/guitarist Daniel Johns' golden hair and flawless complexion, or the band's crunching Nirvana-esque riffs and grunge-inspired tunes -- the fact of the matter remains: all these girls, the screaming ones that "real music fans" love to criticize, were there from the start.
At the base of a career that has only just begun. The rest of us, the ones who were too hip and fashionable to listen to three 15-year-olds objectively and without prejudice, tagged them as Nirvana-wannabes without knowing any better. Considering their circumstances, if all they were doing was cloning a sound they admired, they still deserved credit -- they did it convincingly enough to draw comparisons to a band that changed the face of music for a generation.
If nothing else, silverchair proved they had talent. On their sophomore effort, Freak Show, they make a massive step forward, proudly declaring that while they have influences, and they aren't ashamed to wear them on their sleeves, they also aren't afraid to pick the shirt.
Freak Show takes a grab bag of influences -- mising and matching the legacy of Black Sabbath, the style of Mudhoney and the technique of Tool -- and molds them into silverchair's translation of the sounds that have shaped more than a quarter century of music. It isn't a stretch to hear the pleas of Kurt Cobain through the somber strains of Abuse Me, you don't have to try too hard to pick Led Zeppelin out of The Door, and the trio tackles today's heavier tendencies on No Association. But they do more than mimic.
Johns, bassist Chris Joannou, and drummer Ben Gillies twist their influences into the first semblances of their own sound, taking bold step in asserting themselves creatively, rather than just musically. None of today's poseur punk outfits can hold a candle to the 80-second barrage of Lie To Me, while Pop Song For Us Rejects and The Closing offer jangly-pop dichotomies to the irritated guitars that rage through Slave and Roses.
More than an impressive follow-up, Freak Show is silverchair's bold assertion that they are more than a teenage flash in the pan, and don't plan on disappearing overnight. Give them the chance to prove it, and their Freak Show will turn more heads than any bearded woman.
[Thanks to Katie for the transcript.]