Ireland seems to have become something of a hotspot for emerging rock talent over the last couple of years or so, and Silverbacks, a new five-piece from Dublin, are the latest to break through to a wider audience. Taking their inspiration directly from fellow Dubliners Fontaines D.C. and Girl Band, they’ve adopted the stance of one of Dublin’s biggest successes – The Cranberries – whose 1993 debut album title Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? pretty much sums up their own realisations after attending a Girl Band gig.
Fad, their own debut, has even been produced by Girl Band bassist Daniel Fox, so the ties have become deep since that gig. And they’ve supported Fox’s quartet since too. But the true origins of the band and its drive go way back to when brothers Daniel and Kilian O’Kelly were boys, for they grew up writing songs together.
Fast forward to 2017, when they began producing a run of EPs, material from some of which made it on to this album. Opener Dunkirk – given its title after one of the brothers returned from seeing the film of the same name – is perhaps the best of this bunch, providing listeners with an idea of what to expect from Fad in general. It’s sharp, gritty, and punchy – full of short spiky electric guitar shocks and lazily slung vocals from Daniel O’Kelly, the like of which draw inevitable comparisons to Parquet Courts and one of their own favourites, Pavement. Yet it feels a little different when intricate, spidery guitar noodling kicks in; the overall effect is to conjure a new combination of old genre terms – slacker-math-punk, if you like.
Pink Tide continues in a raucous, rowdy fashion during a rousing chorus for more of the same, while the rawness of Drink It Down Again energises, with the Irish accent perhaps most noticeable with lyrics telling of swinging baseball bats in an almost tongue-in-cheek fashion, with “That wasn’t Jesus, that was just some fucker in a dressing gown” going further. Closer Last Orders also doesn’t hold back with its observations, such as “Screw the system before it screws you”, before more down to earth spat-starters like “Whose round is it anyway?”. This ability to chuck out serious words in a playful manner reminds of Hooton Tennis Club.
Grinning At The Lid develops into something approaching football crowd rowdiness, as if they’re trying to get the crowd going with a new chant, angular guitars striking again during a chugging beat, and lyrics this time promoting connections with a more youthful audience, with “pissing in the sink” a particular favourite. Muted Gold then kicks out a Frankie Goes To Hollywood-like “hoo-hah” during a track underpinned by guitars and rampant rhythm section while vocals nod towards post-punk legend Adam Ant. They’re confident too, comfortable enough in themselves to slip in three short interludes between tracks.
Unusually for any band occupying slacker rock territory, bassist Emma Hanlon provides some female vocals to deviate from the formula. It’s almost a unique selling point, her softer, lighter tones contrasting with the raw energy and vigour of the standard, triple-guitar attack. Up The Nurses works nicely, though it’s the excellent Klub Silberücken that makes her contribution shine, alongside exhilarating guitar injections, on the standout track on the album.
Silverbacks have produced a thrilling debut with Fad, and by all accounts they’re almost ready to knock out album number two as well. They may be past their teens, an era renowned for kicking out post-punk angst, but they’re surely making up for lost ground now.