A malleability around how they describe their music, an initial inability to write serious lyrics, the fact their debut album is called Fad; it seems there’s an air of irreverence lurking around everything Silverbacks do.
While this could be construed as a side-swipe at the recent media obsession with Dublin’s blossoming ‘scene’, perceiving Silverbacks through that lens alone is to do them a serious injustice. Technically a band with nearly two decades of history, harking back to vocalist/guitarist duo/twins Daniel and Kilian O’Kelly penning songs together as kids, Fad is very much its own entity, the product of a band testing the water and seeing what works.
Darting between styles, this electric randomness and variety is a key component throughout Fad. “Grinning at the Lid” has the boozy cocksure credentials of a mid-’00s The Cribs track, a standout both in its singularity and calibre, a far-cry from the effortless, wordless companionship expressed on the instrumental “Madra Uisce”. The band have joked about the ways in which the music press describe their sound, from art-punk to indie, yet if anything it reflects an act with the proficiency to mix it up. Which, needless to say, is no mean feat.
Fad’s irreverence goes further than a disinclination to stick to styles however. Whether it's painting a tepid reality of life in a band (“Just in the Band”) or mocking the malicious adoption and rejection of trends (“Fad ‘95”), the combining vocals of both O’Kelly brothers and bassist Emma Hanlon rarely waste an opportuntity to tackle a convention or display their disregard.
Littered with humour and jabs at expected conventions (the growl “That wasn’t Jesus that was just some fucker in a dressing gown” from “Drink it Down” is worth a mention), Fad is nevertheless underlined by a seriously considered, and often serious, range of subject matter. “Dunkirk”’s imagining of a man having a midlife crisis in a beach resort built on a former battlefield ponders questions of memory and place, and how society reacts when the two things collide. With echoes of The Strokes, “Muted Gold” meanwhile broaches the topic of women receiving unwanted advice, the dampened verses interrupted with occasional flashes of exasperation and disbelief.
Not everything on Fad hits. “Klub Silberrücken” is disjointed, and “Pink Tide”sits rather unremarkably between “Dunkirk” and “Drink it Down”. Rather, Fad’s lasting impression is that of a sprawling blueprint, a petri dish indicating the potential myriad of sounds and styles to come. As such, the irreverence noted perhaps isn’t as first thought. Upon reflection, it seems to indicate an unwillingness to deliver the expected, and by extension, a freedom to explore.