"Neon Ballroom" Review

(@NZone Magazine)

SilverchairReleasing your third album before you turn 20 is a pretty spectacular accomplishment. Daniel Johns (vocals, guitar), Ben Gillies (drums), and Chris Joannou (bass) have done just that. They make up the Australian rock group silverchair, who's brand new CD, Neon Ballroom, debuted at number one in Australia and has already turned gold in Canada after only two weeks in release.

On Neon Ballroom, silverchair explores new musical sounds by incorporating string instruments and piano accompaniment into a couple of tracks along with the background vocals of an Australian children's choir on their first single, Anthem for the Year 2000. This provides a wonderful change from the basic rock drum/guitar sounds heard on their first two CDs, frogstomp and Freak Show, and sets them apart from the other mainstream rock groups they've been compared to: Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The change of sound may be due the band's heavier focus on writing music, as they've had much more free time since they finished high school.

Although their sound has somewhat changed, their messages have not. silverchair differs from other rock groups today because of their lyrics which explore some of the major issues facing teenagers: suicide, abuse from parents, isolation and drug addiction. The first single from Neon Ballroom proudly states "We are the youth, we'll take your fascism away...." as it goes onto explain how teenagers nowadays are just powerful and influential as adults.

During the four years silverchair has been on the music scene, they've ventured out on two world tours. They've recently embarked upon a third world tour in support of Neon Ballroom which has already taken them through Australia and Canada, and will soon lead them around the U.S. and Europe. I recently experienced their show in Toronto which was one of themost thrilling concerts I've ever attended. The stage is very simple, basic lighting with funky neon bars outlining their amps and microphone, but the music is extremely powerful. Daniel Johns creates an utterly eerie atmosphere with his vocals and gestures while Ben and Chris pound out the music. It seemed as if the audience got totally engrossed in the music for the band's 90-minute set.

As the three members of the silverchair continue to grow-up and mature, their music will undoubtedly change with them. Hopefully they will continue to write music that explores life and offers hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.