The Punks Next Door
‘Silverbacks are a friendly Dublin-based band’, so says the quintet’s Bandcamp bio. Alongside the decision to title their debut record Fad – in this climate of post-punk obsession – the group are now in a strong position as the charming punks-next-door the scene has been calling out for.
Produced by Daniel Fox, bassist for modern Irish post-punk legends Girl Band, Fad is a warm and dazzling collection. In the context of Ireland’s so-called post-punk revival – and there are arguments for and against that moniker – Fad offers a wry and charming perspective. Indeed there has been a Silverbacks-shaped hole in the scene; space for a band that wears its influences on its sleeve, and while packed with serious players, doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Fans of everything from Pavement to Television, The Strokes to Girl Band, will find a way into this record. It’s properly charming, how these influences are boasted throughout, like a group of mates passing the aux cord and sharing their favourite riffs. Pavement-inspired ‘Fad 95’ might showcase this best, with Malkmus-esque sleepy vocals and gorgeously delicate harmonics. ‘Get out of my cooler, it’s called rocking out’, Daniel O’Kelly lulls, flitting between Simpsons references and swipes at over-the-hill ‘politicians in denim’.
Elsewhere this wit punches through, with lines like ‘That wasn’t Jesus/That was just some fucker in a dressing gown’ on ‘Drink It Down’ all but begging for a live setting. It’s hard not to imagine the full force of the band’s triple-guitar line-up levelling venues like Vicar Street and the Olympia Theatre once live music returns to the city. The slow build of opening track ‘Dunkirk’ and the anthemic chorus of ‘Just In The Band’ are primed for ecstatic live performances too.
In a scene that has tended to skew towards masculine perspectives of modernity – bands like Fontaines D.C. and Murder Capital come to mind – Silverbacks offer sardonic, often downright funny observations on modern Irish life that don’t require a laddish sensibility. In fact, trad-rock group The Scratch is probably a more appropriate bedfellow for a band like Silverbacks, given their shared love of wry and whimsical lyrics, as well as their precise and engaging playing.
With Fad, Silverbacks have produced one of the most exciting Irish records – debut or otherwise – of the year. There’s hardly a song among these thirteen tracks that doesn’t invoke excitement for the growth of Dublin’s alternative rock scene. There is a certain confidence that shines through when a band commits to having fun, to sharing the kinds of sounds that make them excited about music and checking their egos at the door. This is an exceptional debut from a band who will no doubt continue to challenge the seriousness of certain aspects of Dublin’s alternative scene. A complete and total breath of fresh air.
To purchase Fad, visit https://silverbacks.bandcamp.com/
Published on 22 July 2020
Andrea Cleary is a freelance music and culture writer based in Dublin.