One of the few true shocks in life is when a young band with a seemingly short shelf life manages to somehow keep it together and continually improve. Take Silverchair, whose plodding angst anthems were the subject of much ridicule during their initial splash. But they somehow kept going and kept improving, and Diorama is the sound of a band finally growing into their own skin. The songs have a sense of space and tunefulness that was always missing from their previous efforts, and the production (by David Bottrill) brings to mind everything from the charging anthems of Big Country to U2's first experiments with Brian Eno. Singer Daniel Johns steps into the forefront here, showcasing his rich voice and shockingly catchy tunes with a gusto missing from their earlier albums. His efforts recall deceased singer/songwriter Josh Clayton-Felt, utilizing a similar vocal approach and writing the same sort of psychedelic soul on tracks like "Tuna in the Brine." A song like "World Upon Your Shoulders" could have never been possible before, but in one song they take the washed-out symphonies of Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips and the delicate falsetto pop of Jeff Buckley and combine them into a digestible pop nugget. Although the song may not be as brilliant as the artists they reference, their simple willingness to even attempt that sort of song shows a remarkable maturity. The awesome guitar work from Johns also shows growth, as the songs often drift into Edge-like noodling that compliments his voice much more than the chugging riffs of their first few albums. "Without You"'s Goo Goo Dolls-lite is an unwelcome twist, taking their newfound sense of melody and giving it a blustery chorus that robs the track of its power. The thick "One Way Mule" is another minor disappointment, reverting back to their grunge sound for a song that has little of the intelligence and beauty of the rest of the album. But mostly this is a wonderful surprise from a band thought to have been finished in the late '90s. Being hesitant to give this a chance is perfectly understandable, but Silverchair has grown up and put together a fine mix of pop and rock on Diorama.