Pop Goes the World: The Dissociatives

Written by Music, Pop Goes the World

Whatever you may think of Frogstomp (1995), the oh-so-timely slice of grunge lite that turned three Australian teenagers into superstars, you might be surprised to discover that Silverchair has evolved into a damn good little pop band since then. They shed the grunge thing for a more orchestral pop approach, and even recruited Van Dyke Parks for a couple projects. Singer Daniel Johns eventually gave up the Vedderisms of his youth and embraced his true voice, which turns out to be a butterfly tenor not unlike our last PGTW subject, Green Gartside of Scritti Politti.

The weirdest part for me is that Johns just turned 30 this year. How much had I accomplished by the time I turned 30? Less than Johns, let’s put it that way.

When Silverchair went on hiatus after their 2002 Diorama album, Johns teamed up with Paul Mac, a keyboardist and remixer that has served for years as Silverchair’s unofficial fourth member, to make The Dissociatives, an electronic pop album that sifts Radiohead’s Kid A/Amnesiac weirdness through a decidedly brighter color scheme. Johns lets it all hang out here on a number of levels; the songs are some of the chirpiest things he’s ever done – Silverchair would never record something as lightweight as the whistle-happy instrumental “Lifting the Veil from the Braille” – and good Lord, look at those song titles. “Horror with Eyeballs”? “Aaangry Megaphone Man”? No wonder no one bought this album. It sounds like the soundtrack to an amusement park ride that kills its customers, rather than the art work with a capital ‘A’ that it is. Ten bucks says the members of 10cc like this record.

This album went out of print in what seemed like weeks after its release, which is a pity, because I thought they were a good fit for Astralwerks, but oh well. Here is The Dissociatives. Listen, enjoy, tell your friends. And go look up their videos on YouTube (embedding is disabled) if you want to see some freaky animation. That’s it. Short write-up this week, kids. The day job beckons.

1. We’re Much Preferred Customers
2. Somewhere Down the Barrel
3. Horror with Eyeballs
4. Lifting the Veil from the Braille
5. Forever and a Day
6. Thinking in Reverse
7. Paris Circa 2007 Slash 08
8. Young Man Old Man (You Ain’t Better Than the Rest)
9. Aaangry Megaphone Man
10. Sleep Well Tonight