ALBUM OF THE DAY Silverbacks, “Archive Material” By Charlie Zaillian · January 5th, 2022
The archive material for the noise-pop combo Silverbacks comes from the same Dublin underground from which the post-punks Fontaines DC emerged. Although the title suggests a collection of odds and ends, the LP is the five-piece’s second studio album in as many years. It follows the standout fad released at the height of the pandemic-ridden summer of 2020, and sonically doesn’t deviate far from the debut, but it streamlines some of its rougher edges. Lyrically dense, but musically sparing, the songs by Silverbacks seem more American than Anglophile. The band’s triple guitar attack is crisp, colorful and never tangled thanks to legendary television and is also reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s intricate, melodic works from the later DGC era, Murray Street and Sonic Nurse. Archive material also includes dance party playlist staple influences from the 2000s: LCD sound system, Spoon and the like.
Brothers Daniel and Kilian O’Kelly (who both play guitar) and bassist Emma Hanlon split up the vocal duties in three ways, while Hanlon rhythm section and drummer Gary Wickham keep things taut and Wickham uses the auxiliary percussion of a drum shop – shaker , Tambourines, cowbells – over a dozen tracks of archive material. (Guitarist Peadar Kearney completes the line-up.) Of course, on second LPs, a caveat must be made that part of the immediacy of this initial burst of creativity can be sacrificed in improving composition and performance. You can hear that on Archive Material that is consistently more solid than the breakneck fad, but with less memorable moments of its own. (Since they were denied the chance to properly test the tunes on the street, it probably plays a role.) Perhaps the two albums are best enjoyed listening to different sides of the same coin in a row. Nevertheless, Archive Material’s easy rock rally scream “Recycle Culture” is screaming, pavement-like post-punk par excellence. It would also be great to hear more vocal contributions from Hanlon, whose melodic lead turn on the clanking and energetic “Wear My Medals” is another highlight.