Silverchair are arguably one of the most successful Australian bands of all time. With five albums spanning 12 years, all of which have crashed the charts to No. 1, 8 million international sales and 21 Aria wins, they certainly have the stats to rival. Musically, each album represented a great sonic leap from the last – a testament to frontman Daniel Johns’ exploratory nature, the band’s musical dexterity, and the whims and manias of youth; When Silverchair retired, they were all only 27 years old. With Johns’ upcoming solo album FutureNever releasing this week, we’re celebrating the depth and variation of Silverchair’s catalog with this definitive list. No other arguments:
Let’s start this countdown with a scarcity, as all selfish, smug listicles should. When Silverchair was asked to provide a song for the 1998 film Godzilla, it seemed like a done deal that one of their dinosaur-stomping riff-o-ramas would accompany slow-motion footage of the titular reptile laying waste to a cityscape. Instead, Silverchair delivered a dark, untitled acoustic ballad about eating disorders and suicidal ideation. The movie went with Puff Daddy instead.
24. If you keep losing sleep
In which Silverchair finds himself in a nightmarish Willy Wonka world of truncheons, crunchy candies, bubble machines, blowing goofy melodies to crazed carnival barkers, as Oompa Loompas stomps in concert with the bass drum. It’s the farthest they’ve traveled from the old grunge of their debut album, and probably the song that broke the band, as Chris and Ben stared at each other, then the slider whistle box in the studio, and wondered how they had arrived. That much.
It was the band’s moment of heightened maturity, as Johns leaned heavily on his Billy Corgan cauldron and stirred up a thoughtful, well-balanced rock ballad – though the dark fantasy of living in a graveyard no doubt graced d countless adolescent diaries for millennia.
22. Reflections of a Sound
Just a beautiful song from the latter era which, like so many Johns songs from this period, sounds like the time finally dawning, musically and lyrically speaking. He also brings back a lot of sonic tricks he used on 2004’s Dissociatives, which is notable for being the only music Johns has ever made where he sounds like he’s having fun.
DUN-dundundun-DUN-DUN-DUN-dundundun. The best two-chord riff in existence, paired appropriately with the most absurd lyrics this side of the Andes, with a confusing proto-sci-fi clip that saw a mad scientist capture the band’s sweat to fuel some form of music machine. rock? Whatever. Freak remains a freak song, a foreign anthem to file alongside Creep, Loser and Asshole in your mid-90s playlist, nobody understands me.
20. Without You
“You light up my life like a styrofoam hat” is a stupid comparison, but thankfully the rest of this song is imbued with enough power to top that line: drums driven by toms, a guitar riff that sounds like a lawn mower that starts repeatedly. upwards, a waltzing interlude and a crashing chorus that no misguided comparison can undo.
19. The world on your shoulders
One of Diorama’s finest, yet often overlooked moments, World Upon Your Shoulders opens with a sunny country riff, stutters during hesitant verses, then opens with the most gorgeous and lively chorus ever. ‘album. This song is only hampered by a lyric that reads as a placeholder: “Violent, big and violent / you’re like a thing that’s big and violent.” In effect.
The closest thing to a pop song on their debut album, Frogstomp, though the pop songs are absolutely against anything any serious 15-year-old grunge band in the Newcastle industry stands for. They hid it towards the end of the album, but we found it anyway.
17. Love your life
A shameless love letter to Johns wife, Natalie Imbruglia, with all the do-do sections, plunging piano and soft cooing voice such a thing demands. It would have almost been too twee, save for the jaw-dropping “chicken against the fire” bridge that elevates Luv Your Life from a treacly luv statement to something entirely different.
16. Punk Song 2
A great pop-rock basher that was buried as the B-side of single Freak. Perhaps for this reason, the guitars roar a little more, Johns’ vocals are pleasantly unprocessed and the band sounds like they’re breaking this stuff in the same room, first take, no overdubs. Wait for the second chorus to kick in and it becomes apparent that Johns was bleeding great melodies during this late teenage period.
15. The Most Beautiful View
Driven by a 12-string Rickenbacker riff, The Greatest View was a palette cleanser that rid the dark Neon Ballroom aftertaste and warded off Johns’ growing public health concerns. With this song, Johns lets you know he has the clearest view of where he really is, what’s going on around him, and where he’s headed. You too, you almost believe it.
14. Fault line
The best outro in all of Silverchair’s discography, and with mature, haunting lyrics about the Newcastle earthquake, of all things, it’s Frogstomp’s best-written song. The flip side of Pure Massacre, although in both songs people are dying “for no reason at all”.
13. Through the Night
In Silverchair’s sonic timeline, Across the Night is the scene from The Wizard of Oz where everything goes from black and white to stunning technicolor. The strings rush, Johns wobbles in the falsetto and stays there most of the time, and genius composer Van Dyke Parks weaves parts of every Disney soundtrack into the tapestry. It’s an ambitious and excellent song. And Johns somehow manages to avoid sounding pretentious when singing “It Was The Moon That Stole My Sleep” or crazy when declaring “I hugged a man’s arthritic shoulder.” Very hard to do!
12. Straight lines
When Young Modern arrived, Silverchair was a band in name only. This superb debut single, which crashed to No. 1 and became their most successful song to date, was co-written with Julian Hamilton of The Presets, who wrote credits on four of the 11 songs on the album. ‘album. It’s a dynamic, forward-moving pop song, the sound of Johns leaving his teenage band and following the yellow brick road to where it may lead. Maybe towards a neck tat?
11. Tuna in brine
For the whole ceremony of Diorama’s glorious singles suite, the album’s ambitious heart beats truest in Tuna in the Brine, a six-minute symphony that soars like an opera, gliding through multiple forward motions. -keep and make the most of strings and brass arrangement abilities. Like all great songs, it saves the best until the end.
The biggest outlier in the Silverchair catalogue, and as close as it gets to the chained wallet, trench coat wearing crowd of the late 90s. Spawn Again is machine metal music with “meat is murder” lyrics and a messy and anguished voice. Still in pristine condition on well-worn copies of Neon Ballroom due to being one of the most ignored songs of the CD era (squeezed uncomfortably between Ana’s Song and Miss You Love), it roars like the mighty song of protest that it is.
Freak Show is split between songs built on big riffs and transition songs that point to the glitz and drama of Neon Ballroom. It’s the first, and it’s a perfect opener: a thumping, bloody, ponderous rock beast that runs through a series of massive riffs before the voice hits and begs you not to think about it too much.
8. The son of Israel
“I want you to know I want you dead” is just one of the unsettling lyrics found here – taken not from Johns’ twisted psyche but rather, like many of his early songs, from staring SBS documentaries on our broken planet. The subsonic bassline that opens this song, and their debut album, is worth the price of admission alone.
7. Evil emotions
From the machine gun orchestra announcing its arrival, to multiple tempo changes and instrumental flourishes, Emotion Sickness was the first Silverchair song that even your high school music teacher couldn’t deny. A statement of intent, like all of the band’s album openings, it was the biggest sonic and stylistic leap the band had ever made. From now on, Silverchair painted from a wider color palette, for better or for worse.
6. After all these years
The kind of beautiful, fragile song that could only be achieved by someone who was self-taught on the piano, with all the ambition and joy of discovery without the slap-punches that edit voicings and chord choices. unorthodox. Attached to this are some of Johns’ most heartfelt lyrics, an immaculate performance and vocal lines so pure they recall Brian Wilson at his most creative.
5. The door
Another of Freak Show’s great riff songs, The Door distills the Eastern influences ubiquitous in Western rock, sounds that drifted from India via the Beatles, blew from Led Zeppelin to Soundgarden and ended up dancing in the shallows of Merewether Beach. The best headbanging song in their canon.
4. Paint a pastel princess
Hidden at the end of Neon Ballroom is the most overlooked song in Silverchair’s entire catalog. This little gem sprinkles nonsensical alliteration over swooping strings, weaves into a dancing guitar line drenched in effects, and builds towards Johns’ best chorus. Paint Pastel Princess is the sonic equivalent of those turn-of-the-century Silverchair concerts where Johns was covered in eyeliner and dressed like a Bowie mirror ball, while the other two guys were still wearing cargo shorts.
3. Ana’s Song
If Cemetery was the song that signaled that Silverchair was growing, it was the one that heralded their arrival as a serious band. “Ana” is the personification of an eating disorder that had plagued Johns and signaled an ever-escalating struggle for control of her own life. Not at all forgiving, with most messages masked with poetry and melody, it remains a high point for his songwriting.
2. I miss you
This beautiful ballad combines Johns most poetic lyrics with a wonderful melody. The “big” sections are used sparingly, the arrangement isn’t cluttered with instruments, and Johns’ uncertain voice is a masterclass in how to move without overdoing it. Magnificent.
Back when the Newcastle Water Board was flooding the general public with propaganda, it took a brave 15-year-old to tell the truth about the hard-to-drink liquid flowing through the city’s pipes. With this impeccably crafted epic, Silverchair arrived fully formed, scoring a No. 1 single that became the most played song on American rock radio in 1995. The EP version is slightly better than the one re-recorded for Frogstomp, mainly because it looks a bit rougher around the edges – clearly made by three teenagers who just want to throw all the ideas they have in the jar and see how it tastes.