The Best Of -- Volume One (Epic)

Miss Congeniality
Dismissed as Baby Nirvana and Pearl Jam Jr., Silverchair, the young Aussie trio that generated heat galore during grunge's halcyon days, rode the wave of chunky guitar riffs, flannel, and woe-is-me lyrics to semi-fame during one brief, mid-'90s season. Then it faded away, along with many others, in the great alternative nation crash of '96. The Best Of -- Volume One, a collection of 11 singles and 10 previously unreleased (in the U.S., anyway) B-sides, doesn't really make you miss the band. But in retrospect, it does skim off the needlessly clunky album filler and provide nostalgia shoppers with a solid little compilation. From "Tomorrow"'s melting-pot generality to the lush orchestral setting of "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" from last year's unnoticed Neon Ballroom, Silverchair -- particularly leader Daniel Johns -- at least wanted to move within if not exactly out of modern rock's peripheries. Sure, "Freak" is way too familiar territory, and the raging "Anthem for the Year 2000" is the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video put to song, but the boys' youthful passion doesn't spawn hate the way artificial clones Stone Temple Pilots (then) and Creed (now) do.

Of course, there's not much below the surface here. "Israel's Song," "Abuse Me," and "Pure Massacre" say all the right things in all the right ways for embittered youth the world over, but it's mostly bitching to and for the converted. The unreleased stuff, here to fill out an otherwise skimpy package (three albums in five years isn't much to focus a hits collection on; one can only speculate whether the hopeful second volume will ever see life), isn't going to convince anyone of the band's legacy, unless acoustic versions, remixes, and one-word rejects such as "Trash," "Madman," and "Blind" are your thing. The real relevance is in '90s reminiscence.

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