Off-key with Eric D.

Eric D'Orazio

After three albums, 11 internationally successful singles and numerous award-winning videos, Australia’s own Silverchair arrived at a turning point in 2000. For many years previously, the band was unhappy with their Sony record label. According to lead singer Daniel Johns, the label levied a great deal of restrictions and controls over the band’s music, cutting off any chances of artistic experimentation. However, all that changed two years ago with the expiration of their Sony contract. Though the band did put out one last album, 2000’s “The Best Of … Volume 1,” they soon signed with Atlantic Records and gained the artistic freedom they deserved.

At long last, people everywhere may hear Silverchair’s full artistic potential, all rolled into a nice delectable package known as the newly released “Diorama.”

Highlights of this fourth Silverchair album are really quite hard to pinpoint. In truth, most of its songs seem to be about life and love, or a lack thereof. This idea is epitomized in the band’s current Australian single, “Luv Your Life.” Throughout the song, the band ponders the feelings found at the end of a relationship, and the love one feels for their life after they have let go of past memories. As for its sound, the song remains quite orchestrated throughout the album. In fact, its orchestral arrangements were done by longtime Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks and the Pro Musica Sydney Orchestra. Altogether, these factors allow “Luv Your Life” to be an ideal power ballad for the 21st century listener.

“Without You,” which is possibly the most moving love song on “Diorama,” truly has much to offer. Instead of relying solely on florid orchestrations like the majority of the album does, it sticks to Silverchair’s tried and true formula of heavy guitars and overpowering vocals. The song’s stirring lyrics deal with the thought that a life without love is not a happy one, and there is nothing to do with a life like that but wait for that special someone to come along. In other words, “Without You” can be best compared to 1999’s “Ana’s Song,” but with a less morbid overtone.

The single greatest song on “Diorama,” is “The Greatest View.” Being the album’s first huge international smash hit single, it takes on anthemic proportions with its incredible vocal hooks and sonically powerful guitar harmonics.

As soon as the song begins, it becomes apparent that it is like nothing the band has ever done before. Though it is in actually a love song, it achieves much more than that by referring to the idea of falling in love and discovering how great life can be with such a feeling. Everything the song stands for is best summed up in the chorus, “I’m watching you watch over me, and I’ve got the greatest view from here.” Not only is it evident that “The Greatest View” is the finest piece of work on “Diorama,” but it is truly a shining moment in Silverchair’s career.

As a whole, “Diorama” is definitely a superb effort. However, in a critical point of view, it is not as good as 1999’s “Neon Ballroom,” let alone 2000’s aforementioned “Best Of” compilation. Many of the songs on the new record are seemingly drawn-out pieces of classical confusion, which is somewhat out of place with a band known for hard rock and angst.

But on the flipside, the new album shows that Silverchair has finally found peace within themselves despite the problems they had with their former record company.

All in all, the band makes it a point with “Diorama” that they are still the “thunder from down under.”