10 Albums in 10 Days: Day 2
NEON BALLROOM, SILVERCHAIR, 1999
CW: This article discusses anorexia.
I’m sure anyone who knows me won’t be shocked I have chosen to review a silverchair album but I’m sure my choice in Neon Ballroom will raise a few eye brows; why not the old favourite Frogstomp or critically acclaimed Diorama?
Sure, I love these albums, but I feel like Neon Ballroom is an incredibly underrated chapter in the silverchair story, one that is often (in my opinion) wrongly described as “filler”, I’m here to discuss why I think this is just blatantly incorrect.
First off, how on earth an album starting with a piece of ingenious music such as Emotion Sickness can be fobbed off as the “filler” album is beyond me. Emotion Sickness is and probably always will be my favourite silverchair piece on a purely musical level. The involvement of concert pianist David Helfgott sets the tone for the level of musical exploration Daniel Johns is taking on this album, which certainly led into further development on Diorama. It’s such mature writing for anyone, let alone when we stop to remind ourselves John and his band mates Chris Joannou (bass) and Ben Gillies (drums) were just 19 when they released Neon Ballroom and they already had two very successful albums under their belts – yikes.
The reason I love Neon Ballroom so much is I believe it encapsulates the centre point of quintessential silverchair. It has the stadium-ready Anthem for the Year 2000, the Freakshow-esque growls of Spawn (Again) and the raw emotion of Ana’s Song, the latter being the most honest piece Johns had released to date, the first public acknowledgement of his battle with anorexia.
The most underrated silverchair album (again, my opinion) also features their most underrated track, Satin Sheets, which you may have heard me spin on Moshpit a few weeks ago. Anyone who said Daniel forgot how to rock when he started writing songs like Miss You Love clearly didn’t listen to the end of the album, because this has that classic silverchair grunt with the newfound maturity Daniel brought to this album.
There is so much packed into one album at times it is difficult to believe you are listening to the same band (go and listen to tracks four and five, Spawn (Again) and Miss You Love back to back, you’ll understand). To me there is no better representation of the range of silverchair’s talent, with Johns’ vocals interchanging from high melodies to angry growls and the depth of his freakish talent and knowledge for pushing the boundaries of Australian music.
If you need support for yourself or someone you care about regarding eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation confidential helpline by phone on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or online.