Freaks of Desire

By Essi Berelian (Metal Hammer)

What exactly is it about this relatively unremarkable Australian trio that helped them shift so many copies of their debut album in 1995? They don't bite heads off pigeons, trash hotel rooms and they're certainly not teen idols. But looking over the impressive sales figures for frogstomp, it's hard not to be amazed at the frequency of words like platinum and gold.

After all, it can't have escaped everyone's attention that silverchair are heavily influenced by the spirit of Seattle -- very, very heavily influenced -- and that, of course, is extremely old news. Whilst on frogstomp, these three underage rockers were keen to mine the Pearl Jam seam of grunge, it is very hard to ignore the fact that Freak Show owes more than a drink to Nirvana; the likeness is so uncanny in places, it's scary. Simply listen to Freak, Roses and Abuse Me (Rape Me?), whilst Lie To Me and Learn To Hate could easily be the bastard offspring of Aneurysm and Territorial Pissings. And it's not just the music that has the distinct whiff of Teen Spirit about it; guitarist Daniel Johns' vocals sound eerily like Kurt Cobain's throughout -- very spooky. But just remember we're talking about Nirvana without the apparently depth, experience or, indeed, the heroin habit.

Leaving the obvious comparisons aside, have the band progressed at all? Well, the lyrics are still creaky, but start judging albums solely on their lyrical content alone and many classics would be assigned to the dustbin. The boys play with the same degree of assurance amply displayed on their debut, only this time some lush strings and Indian instrumentation add a relatively exotic window dressing to the fierce guitars. In their own naive way (doubtless encouraged by the adults around them), they have stumbled upon many rock fans' love for the familiar and in this sense, they deliver with unnerving precision. Whether this is a bad thing is another matter, but it is hard not to wonder who they're going to sound like next. Mudhoney, perhaps?

[Transcribed by Daniel Young]