Every so often a country, city or a scene throws up a couple of acts, that has the A&R men scrambling for their company credit cards, an A-Z (usually a motoring atlas that features places outside of London) and a glint in their eye. In the past it’s been Wales, Seattle, New York, Glasgow, Bristol, Britpop, Grunge, Madchester.…you get the idea. Every major label jumps on the bandwagon, hoping for an upgrade to the gravy train, when their signing turns out to be the new “best thing since sliced bread”, rather than Bennet or Gay Dad (ask your parents). How else do you explain some of the absolute dross that got signed in the 90s and then very quickly dropped?v
Now, with the success of Fontaines DC, Inhaler and Murder Capital, it’s the turn of the Emerald Isle, or more specifically, Dublin, to be the new hot ticket. Of course this has been a rich seam to visit in the past, with the success of bands like U2 etc and now it’s Silverbacks turn in the spotlight. Except this time we’re not talking about any “Johnny Come Lately’s” here. The band have been around for a few years now, honing their craft, developing organically, to the point that “Archive Material” is actually their second LP, after 2020’s “Fad”. Having admittingly previously flown under this writer’s radar, this collection of songs now has them up there, front and central.
Despite having 3 guitarists, their sound is thinly layered, plenty of melody and space. There are shades of Television, Vampire Weekend, The Killers and even Gang of Four and Fugazi, hidden in their often, off-kilter melodies. Vocal duties are shared around, with bassist Emma Hanlon taking lead on “Wear My Medals” and “I’m Wilder”. They even find space for the Eno-esque “Carshade”, an instrumental similar to the relaxing sounds played by beauty therapists and masseurs (gonna have to trust me on this!), a track so out of keeping with the rest that I had to check I was still listening to “Archive Material”. On “Nothing To Write Home About”, I can’t help but notice the cheeky stolen New Order riff towards the end. The lyrical content hasn’t shied away from the pandemic either. Too many bands seem to want to ignore this period in history, but Silverbacks confront it head on in “Different Kind of Holiday”, about how neighbours bonded with each other during periods of enforced lockdown. Another, “A Job Worth Something”, inspired by Daniel O’Kelly’s sister, who was treating patients on a COVID ward, whilst he mused on his real-life experiences of working in insurance. It’s very easy to lose the message in the melody though. Daniel explains it perfectly in the accompanying press release, “I can’t remember who it was, but I saw musician who said that they’d be keeping away from writing anything about the pandemic, because who wants to hear about that? But I’d much rather hear about an event via someone who actually lived through it, rather than someone writing about it retrospectively. Archive Material? Exactly!
Archive Material is out on 21st Jan on Full Time Hobby Records
Catch them on tour 6th March YES – Manchester, 7th March Jimmy’s – Liverpool. 9th March The Prince Albert – Brighton. 10th March London – Sebright Arms and 12th March Leeds – Headrow House.