Dublin group forge a progressive path...

The ‘p’ word may be starting to get tiresome with every gruesome mention in our day-to-day lives. But with ‘Archive Material’, Dublin quintet Silverbacks have used the pandemic as a prism to document the monotony and strangeness we’ve all encountered since March 2020 in an amiable fashion.

Having toured with Girl Band after the success of their first few releases, everything was going to plan for Silverbacks pre-Covid. However, despite being advised by their label to hold off on their debut album when COVID first struck, ‘Fad’ was unveiled in July 2020 to strong critical acclaim and its explosive versatility stood out among Dublin’s sprawling post-punk crowd. Now ‘Archive Material’, recorded in November of the same year, picks up where ‘Fad’ left off.

What’s most impressive about Silverbacks is their ability to seamlessly blend a plethora of musical styles, sometimes within the space of a few seconds. Staccato guitars in the unmistakable style of Gang Of Four and Television pepper the album. Echoes of Cate Le Bon shine in bassist Emma Hanlon’s vocal exploits on ‘Wear My Medals’ and ‘I’m Wild’ while the abrasiveness of Sonic Youth interjects throughout, making the album shift all the more curiously and unpredictably.

The band’s studio experimentation also comes to the fore in their sophomore album. Congas, Rhodes keys and complex arrangements show the progress made from ‘Fad’ and perhaps foreshadow the direction which their next material will be headed.

Thematically, people are at the heart of ‘Archive Material’. The mixed emotions etched on the faces featured on the album’s cover tie in not only with the various tracks on the record, but with almost everyone’s emotions throughout the pandemic. Guilt (‘A Job Worth Something’), confusion (‘Central Tones’) and longing combine with smatterings of smiles which many of us were forced to adopt to lighten the toughest moments of lockdown.

‘Different Kind of Holiday’ channels the essence of the album. Inspired by neighbours who would previously never talk to each other coming together over lockdown, it documents the boredom of isolation and all its consequential emotions whilst finding a sense of humour among the monotony: “Watch the paint dry, man / It always comes to something… / Different kind of holiday / Same town, but different kind of holiday.”

A fascinating record, ‘Archive Material’ is another impressive step forward for Silverbacks.


Words: Jamie Wilde

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