Silverchair

Diorama (Atlantic)

I'd pretty much written off Silverchair when, on its 2000 greatest-hits set, it confirmed all those accusations of post-alt-rock gravedigging by covering Minor Threat's "Minor Threat" as a lameozoid jock-rock throwaway that proved that's how the band heard it in the first place. (They also subtitled that disc "Volume 1," which got me scratching my head bleakly.) But the new Diorama's piqued my interest again, if only because it demonstrates how willing this trio of twentysomething Australians is to rewrite its history: This is painfully portentous, indescribably self-aggrandizing art-rock that acts as if the single lesson grunge had to offer was that taking your own life is only a so-so display of unmanageable passion. Then again, front man Daniel Johns has weathered both anorexia and arthritis, so you certainly can't begrudge him the bombast, especially when he hooks up with Brian Wilson crony/orchestral-pop oddball Van Dyke Parks for a handful of tunes--opener "Across the Night" flaunts so much instrumental excess you won't mind the lack of a proper song beneath the glimmering glory, and "Tuna in the Brine" is called "Tuna in the Brine." Too bad the balance, like that woeful "Minor Threat" cover, demonstrates a profound misreading of fertile source material. (Earth to Daniel: Thom Yorke and Scott Stapp don't share that much in common.) Time for another revision.

 
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