Thursday 23 July 2020

Silverbacks - Fad

With a series of successful singles and a growing buzz behind them, Silverbacks launch their debut album into the world. Fad is a record that manages the mean trick of taking a thrilling set of influences and blending them into an exciting sound that will be both familiar yet fresh. 

The album kicks off with a reworking of their 2018 debut single Dunkirk, all spindly guitar, repetitive tight and taut drums and a monotone half-spoken vocal from Daniel. It exudes an infectious energy that runs through Fad's thirteen songs and thirty-six minutes - running into Pink Tide's blast of a chorus that explodes out of a wall of guitar and more half-spoken vocals that deliver with an almost uninterested slightly accented drawl which contrarily underlines that Silverbacks mean business. This is an album of short sharp punches to the gut, angular elbows to the ribs and stamps to the foot.

The album never pauses for breath, even in the three short interlude tracks Dud, Travelodge Punk and Madra Uisce that all feel like they're just taking you from one side of the street to the other to face the next onslaught. Drink It Down sees Daniel hitting us with machine-gun paced vocals, declaring "that wasn't Jesus, that was just some fucker in dressing gown" whilst asking the question "what is it to be human? what is it to be pure?" before stopping dead in its tracks, barged out of the way by Fad 95's more laid-back questioning mockingly politicians wearing denim and their old man attempts at understanding the issues facing young adults.

The first of the aforementioned interludes Dud takes us into Klub Silverrucken, almost the antithesis of what's gone before, Emma taking over lead vocals, referencing Kraftwerk and disco balls to a sound that feels like the mood has been lifted and lightened until Daniel comes back in and ratchets things up to make sure the contrast is as stark as it can be. It's a trick The Delgados managed effortlessly on their debut Domestiques in 1996 and few have done successfully since. The brilliance of Fad lies in the way that it doesn't even attempt to hide its inspirations, but here we're talking a band stamping their own musical intellect and personality all over it rather than creating a pale imitation.

Travel Lodge Punk provides a brief respite before the album's strongest quartet of songs. Just In The Band hurtles along flattening anything in its path with a whirlwind of guitars and an unstoppable momentum and Daniel at his most animated so far and slows down to a dramatic conclusion that goes away from what's come before. Grinning At The Lids make dismissive references to pissing in the wind and declares "fuck you all" before cramming in a multitude of musical ideas. 

That approach bears most fruit on Muted Gold, delicious vocal harmonies from Emma over Daniel's vocals before roles reverse and Emma takes over breathless lead vocals and Daniel puts on his best eighties "hoo haa" chant before the song veers off another tangent. It's got so many different ideas flying around, but somehow they're held together by the thrill of the guitars that bind it all strongly. Up The Nurses has Emma leading vocals centre stage over two and a half minutes as guitars crash around her, drop out and then rush back in.  

Madra Uisce gives us pause for breath before Fad's final assault on our senses - Last Orders glam drum stomp and Daniel's simple plaintive one line chorus "last orders at the bar" drops down into something more sparse and slower and when you think its inevitable the final hit will come back and finish you off, it surprises you by stopping dead. 

Fad is a triumphant debut; a record to stand alongside the many magnificent sounds that are coming out of their Dublin base. Their three-pronged guitar approach and dual vocals stand them out from the crowd in a busy scene, creating an urgency, an inability to stand still in one place, wearing influences on their sleeves but weaving them into a rich energetic and rewarding tapestry for the listener. One of our favourite records of the year so far.

Silverbacks are on Facebook and Twitter.

They play Limerick Kasbah Social Club (February 26), Dublin The Grand Social (27), Bristol The Crofter's Rights (March 13), Birmingham Hare And Hounds (14), Glasgow Hug And Pint (15), Manchester Castle Hotel (16), London Dalston Victoria (18), Southampton Heartbreakers (19) and Bristol Hope And Ruin (20).

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