IF you approach Daniel Johns’ second album in over a decade as a Silverchair fan, expect to be disappointed.
There’s not even a skerrick of the legendary Newcastle rock band’s sound within Dreams’ debut album No One Defeats Us. Dreams are the long-awaited collaboration between Johns and Empire Of The Sun and The Sleepy Jackson frontman Luke Steele.
Both are enigmatic characters, so it’s no surprise that they’ve delivered an enigmatic collection of songs that blend ’80s electro, house, funk and rock and pop melodies together in an experimental gumbo.
At times the melodies are buried underneath a maze of computerised vocals, beats and synths, but when they’re allowed to break free the potential of Dreams is realised.
For example, when Johns’ vocal soars in the anthemic chorus of Young Minds before it segues into a tender children’s choir.
The idiosyncratic Silence also features one of the duo’s most interesting melodies and samples and the synth-dominated Movies carries a Blade Runner-style futuristic foreboding.
While the music breathes with an air of adventure, the lyrics are mired in cliche. Live To Love merely has Steele sprouting lines like “a friend in need is a friend indeed” or “a problem shared is a problem halved”, as if spreading wisdom and the title track’s preaching is naive.
There’s no disputing that both Johns and Steele are musical geniuses. You don’t sell 10 million albums worldwide without possessing a serious knack for pop hooks. No One Defeats Us displays glimpses of that genius, but heavy doses of self-indulgence too.