Silverbacks – ‘Fad’ album review

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Silverbacks’ ‘Dunkirk’ single has been all over BBC 6 Music over the lockdown period and it hints at great things to come from the Dublin-based five-piece’s debut album ‘Fad’. The band have already released a string of well-received singles (produced by Girl Band’s bass player Daniel Fox) and wowed a string of festival audiences last summer.

The album opens with ‘Dunkirk’ – an agit-punk piece with huge riffs and melodic sensibilities. It’s quickly followed up by a burst of scuzzy bass and squeals of feedback on ‘Pink Tide’, an anthem in waiting bursting with Daniel O’Kelly’s wry observations on society: ‘Everyone is the same, around her it’s nothing more than a game’. ‘Drink it Down’ has a narrative about a farmer who finds himself in a position he could never have imagined – and how he could end up with blood on his hands: ‘At least his land is fertile, at least he has his field. His younger brother’s stupid but wants to be in power’. There’s also a sense of dark humour running throughout as they ponder over an unexpected visit: ‘That wasn’t Jesus. It was just some fucker in a dressing gown’.

‘Fad 95’ veers into more traditional indie-rock territory – but with a Stephen Malkmus-inspired bent. It finds the band celebrating how ‘politicians wearing denim are a thing of the past’. ‘Just in the Band’ again reminds us of US college rock as its glorious hooks and frenetic drums collide with Eddie Argos-style observations on what it means to be a band member in 2020: ‘It’s a life of short slack’.

‘Grinning at the Lid’ opens with more classic stabbed punk riffs before settling into a slackerpop sound with plenty of self-depreciation: ‘We’re self-critical and hate you all. We keep inside so fuck you all’; ‘What if our accents were different? I think I said too much’. The gang backing vocals on this song are roared out with the same kind of energy as early Cribs releases. There’s something more dreamy about ‘Muted Gold’ before bassist Emma Hanlon takes the mic on ‘Up the Nurses’ – a song that finds them trying to help someone out of a rut: ‘I could be the one to call you late at night’; ‘I could be the one to solve all of your problems’. The final song is rather fittingly called ‘Last Orders’ and it’s a upbeat piece of power pop with an important message at its core: ‘Screw the system before it screws you’.

Silverbacks are no ‘Fad’. This record is vital.

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