The fourth album from the Newcastle-based Silverchair was the point at which we all realised they weren’t interested in being a regular rock band, despite three albums of material that sounded right at home with the post-grunge/rock movement on the mid-late nineties, starting with their Nirvana-esque debut Frogstomp (and its lead single “Tomorrow”) in 1994.
The group got more experimental on third album Neon Ballroom in 1999 before reconnecting for Diorama in the second half of 2001. A fan at the time, I remember being struck by how weird this album is, and even being completely turned off by opening track “Across The Night” on first listen: the track contains heavy orchestration, evokes the Beatles more bombastic Sgt Peppers-era work, and runs for over five and a half minutes. Neither typical of the band, nor particularly accessible.
If you get past the opener, there are a couple of sweet treats in singles “The Greatest View” and “Without You”, both pretty good rock tracks, even if a little sickly sweet. The album gets a little heavier on “One Way Mule” and late album track “The Lever” (probably my favourite here). But the album ultimately gets bogged down in acoustic guitars and over-the-top strings and horns.
There are some decent ideas here – and I suspect I appreciate the musicality more now than I did back in 2002. But, despite a few high points, Diorama is a bit of a mess.
CLTM (Chris Listens To Music) is my attempt to listen to a new album every day; you can follow my efforts on Instagram here (and send recommendations), and if you like what I’m doing, support my efforts by shouting me a cuppa at Buy Me A Coffee.