Silverbacks
Phil Smithies

Ireland has become somewhat of a epicentre for emerging young guitar bands in recent years. Fronted by acclaimed outfits such as Fontaines D.C and The Murder Capital, guitar music is experiencing a resurgence across the Irish Sea. It stands to reason then, that any band creating a buzz within this flourishing scene must possess some standout material. With Girl Band bassist Daniel Fox on production duties and taking their cues from the energy of 70s punk and the NYC No Wave scene, five-piece Silverbacks have just that.

Propelled by a trio of jittery guitars and relentless rhythms, the quintet has created an urgent and charismatic genre merger in their debut, Fad; a showreel from a band unafraid to experiment with sound, and the confidence to tackle any subject.

Opener ‘Dunkirk’ is an immediate statement of intent. Building tension through fidgety guitar lines and escalating motoric rhythms, the band abruptly subvert expectations as they dance into a math rock outro, making one fact abundantly clear; these guys have no regard for convention.

In fact, Silverbacks are not singing from the same hymn sheet at any moment in Fad. Delicate folky instrumental track ‘Madra Uisce’ sounds a world away from the harsh sonic landscape of ‘Dunkirk’, whilst ‘Just In The Band’ is a propulsive and loud number drawing on tales of Iggy and Bowie’s friendship.

‘Grinning At The Lid’ oozes American Post Punk energy before handing over to the hooky ‘Muted Gold’, born out of practising Afrobeat and Highlife guitar techniques and the unsolicited advice women receive.

Fad is just as rousing lyrically as it is sonically. The Dubliner’s hard-edged take on the noisy and disjointed world of today is often cleverly expressed through biting quips. Daniel O’Kelly wryly remarks, “That wasn’t Jesus, that was just some fucker in a dressing gown” on ‘Drink It Down’, before lamenting, “politicians in denim, everybody wants one” in ‘Fad 95’, whilst poking fun at the fads of the day.

Intertwined with these humorous remarks, however, are darker undertones. ‘Fad 95’ takes aim at politicians as O’Kelly gripes, “the fools are on the mic and the power is in the stand”, whilst ‘Drink It Down’ refers to the reality that every generation has bloodied their hands at some point to gain the affluence and influence they hold today.

The Dublin outfit’s unconventional approach is highlighted again in ‘Klub Silberrucken’- a re-imagining of a John Hughes film – as bassist Emma Hanlon assumes lead vocal duties. Hanlon’s lighter vocal style charmingly contrasts the sprechgesang drones of O’Kelly, a fact that is affirmed as Hanlon re-assumes vocal responsibilities in the Blondie-esque ‘Up The Nurses’.

Whilst instrumental tracks ‘Travel Lodge Punk’ and the aptly named ‘Dud’ further highlight the five-piece’s fearlessness in experimenting with sounds, both fall short of making any lasting impact on Fad. Although the pair act as a buffer between the dissimilar vocal styles of O’Kelly and Hanlon, in their own right, they are quite forgettable.

Minor distractions aside, Fad is a seriously exciting debut, made even more tantalising by the prospect of a sophomore effort hot on Fad’s heels, and if their debut is anything to go by, who knows where they’ll take it next.

Rating

Silverback’s Fad is available to stream and download now.

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