Recorded with Gilla Band bassist Daniel Fox, Silverbacks become an entity in and of themselves, streaked with ambition.
Words: Elvis Thirlwell | Photo: Roisin Murphy O’sullivan
Boy oh boy don’t Silverbacks grow up so fast these days! 18 months on from ‘Fad’ – their rancorous and angular post-punk debut – this Dublin quintet raise eyebrows with multi-faceted follow-up ‘Archive Material’.
Recorded with Gilla Band bassist Daniel Fox, the reinforced influences of Television and Pavement – so beloved of founding brothers Daniel and Killian O’Kelly – seals their latest work with the mark of a delightfully obvious creative maturity. There’s steadier, more considered rhythms, the idiosyncratic criss-cross-wiring of guitars into harmonious asymmetry, craftily rendered. There’s that glass-shard voice, splintered with poetry, redolent of a received, homespun, wisdom – peeling away from the heavy Irish-accents of the band’s debut, it has Atlanticised towards more worldly, Reed-cum-Malkmas barks and brays.
While slotting here and there into ready-made moulds of stumbling post-punk a la Pottery/ Squid – illustrated by the preliminary rumbles of the excellent eponymous opener, or the shouty shouty labours of ‘Recycle Culture’ – Archive Material jags more than enough times towards exquisitely elegant and artfully construed innovations as to keep us rapt in admiration. Album highlight, ‘A Job Worth Something’, detailing Daniel O’Kelly’s guilty reflections of his sister’s risk-ridden work on a covid ward, tackles a rakish B-52s-esque beat with heart-shredding aplomb. The leftfield-as-fuck ‘Carshade’ hearses into view with a ponderous Rhodes piano, offering glittering ambient beauty- like an angel sombrely floating down from the pearly gates to tenderly inform us of some extremely bad news.
A further hidden weapon in the Silverbacks armoury is part-time vocals of bassist Emma Hanlon; performing on a clutch of tracks, her adoringly folkish melodies memorably take centre stage on closer ‘I’m Wild’ – a witching, psych-folk tumble that butterflies so grungy-gorgeous that it’s a mind-stretch to identify these sounds with anything preceding it. As an oxbow lake isolates from a meandering river, Silverbacks are rapidly becoming an entity in and of themselves, streaked with ambition.