Silverbacks: Fad (Central Tones) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020  

Silverbacks

Fad

Central Tones

Aug 04, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The new wave of bands from Ireland enjoying critical acclaim and success in the UK and beyond have often been poetic, brooding, and intense. However, it wouldn’t be remiss to suggest there are a few who may come across as just a little too earnest and po-faced. 

Enter Silverbacks, a five-piece from Dublin with their riotous debut album Fad. It’s an album that is just as intense as bands like The Murder Capital and Fontaines D.C. but doesn’t wear an overcoat or lookout to mid-distance with a stylized meaningful poetic stare. There’s a self-awareness and a sly wit coupled with a playful sense of fun to everything Silverbacks do. Which isn’t to suggest they don’t take themselves seriously, but when dealing with heavy subject matter the band often deftly employ ironic gallows humor as a counterbalance. Indeed even the album’s mischievous title Fad suggests that the music industry’s current obsession with Dublin’s post-punk scene may be just that, a passing trend. 

The band were formed by founding members and Strokes obsessed brothers Daniel and Kilian O’Kelly and were then joined by Emma Hanlon on bass, guitarist Peadar Kearney, and drummer Gary Wickham. However tracks such as “Fad ’95”—“The fool’s on the mic/And the power’s in the stand”—and “Drink It Down”—“That wasn’t Jesus/That was some fucker in a dressing gown”—suggest lyrically at least they appear to have more in common with Half Man Half Biscuit than Julian Casablancas and co. Silverback’s spiky guitars riffs and propulsive energy coupled with a wry sense of humour make Fad an instantly likeable album which grows and blossoms with repeated listens. 

The album was produced with Daniel Fox from Girl Band and is imbued with real edge and personality and frames Silverbacks as a band doing exactly what the fuck they want to do rather than following a preordained template as a route to gain a wider audience. 

The album opens with the sublime “Dunkirk,” which imagines an ageing punk in the throes of a midlife crisis on a holiday beach at Dunkirk: “A safety pin right through the ear, 40 years of manhood.” It ends with Daniel O’Kelly sardonically asking: “Every punk trick in the book/And you want it to go somewhere?”

It’s an album full of surprises, for example, bassist Emma Hanlon takes over on lead vocals on the chiming Weezer-esque “Up the Nurses” and it works beautifully. On “Muted Gold,” Daniel O’Kelly and Hanlon take revolving lead and backing vocal roles throughout the song, with O’Kelly delivering a backdrop of demented “hoo-haas” and manages to sound not unlike Al Pacino channelling Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

“Just in the Band” is perhaps the albums finest moment in which Silverbacks’ triple-guitar attack and Daniel O’Kelly’s acerbic half-spoken/half-sung vocals combine perfectly to create an art-punk opus. Indeed when O’Kelly sings “Can’t you see he’s just in the band?” it could quite easily morph into “life’s an illusion, love is the dream” from Buzzcocks’ “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays.”

It’s a compelling and sure-footed debut album, one that utilizes the band’s own influences without ever sounding like a pastiche. Out of the current crop of Dublin bands being feted by the press, Silverbacks might just be the best yet. (www.silverbacksband.com) 

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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