(Herald rating: * * )

The Aussie rock trio are now out of their teens as they arrive at their fourth album, its dour predecessor Neon Ballroom having suggested that having all your adolescent rock'n'roll dreams come true wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

By contrast Diorama, which has already lodged itself in the top 10 on this side of the Tasman, is a rather more optimistic, wider-screen affair and a further ambitious musical leap from their humble, grunge-inspired beginnings.


But there's still something oddly precocious about band singer-songwriter Daniel Johns.

Here, he seems intent on showing that given the extras (which include Tool producer David Bottrill and a 40-piece orchestra playing arrangements by composer and long-time Brian Wilson cohort Van Dyke Parks), he can stretch himself beyond guitar rock into lavish studio creations. That's whether it's the opening Across the Night or Luv Your Life, both of which proudly echo their Parks/Beach Boys connections in their symphonic pop-rock swirl.

World Upon Your Shoulders suggests that while the Nirvana influence might have abated, a Jeff Buckley one is making itself felt.

Occasionally, Silverchair put aside their new-found musical sensitivity and hit out on high-drama, grinding sub-metal anthems like The Greatest View, One Way Mule and Lever - after all, there are only so many string-laden epics the moshpit-faithful can take.

If that makes Diorama's 11 tracks incohesive, there's another problem too. Yes it sounds lush, progressive and all grown-up. But in Diorama's grand design it's all that cleverness you hear first. The songs themselves - lyrically and occasionally melodically uninspired efforts, which in the past at least got through on youthful rock bluster - just don't leave much of an impression.

Label: Eleven/Virgin