In years from now, anyone seeking to make sense of what life was like during a global pandemic should extend their research beyond the newspaper clippings and dive into the art produced during the period. Archive Material - the aptly-titled second album by Dublin-based art-rock quintet Silverbacks - will make for a particularly illuminating listen on the subject. Capturing the absurd mixture of monotony and creeping disquiet experienced by many of us this past 18 months, it’s simultaneously sobering and wickedly droll.
Archive Material only cements Silverbacks’ status as one of Ireland’s most fascinating bands. Recorded at Dublin’s Sonic Studios in November 2020, with Daniel Fox undertaking production duties once more, it finds the band leaning into their early influences, delivering idiosyncratic indie-rock packed with intricate, Tom Verlaine-esque “guitarmony”. Other reference points for the record included Neil Young, Weyes Blood and - on ‘Wear My Medals’ in particular - Bradford Cox and Cate Le Bon’s collaborative record Myths 004.
Where Fad found Silverbacks focused on recapturing the live experience rather than reveling in studio experimentation, Archive Material skillfully traverses the line between the two. As a unit, they replicate that irrepressible live energy via complex arrangements incorporating everything from wistful Rhodes (‘Carshade’) to congas and Gang Of Four-style bass (‘Different Kind Of Holiday’)
Keenly observed and vividly rendered, Archive Material is an eye-witness account of human resilience as much as it is a compelling indie-rock record. Future historians take note.