Hidden Pony Records
Released: Monday 25 June 2012
Taking their name from a Daft Punk song, Silverclub are a Manchester based four-piece who skilfully combine pop and electronica and drag it kicking and screaming on to the dancefloor. Their sound lives in that undefined area where freewheeling break-beats meet clean, crisp electronics, and druggy, stream-of-consciousness vocals are harnessed to tight, hook-laden songwriting. Having released a handful of highly impressive singles over the past two years, the band have just dropped their self-titled debut album, and it's a bloody belter.
The band is the brain-child of one Duncan Jones, who has previously released techno on the respected label Human Shield under the name DNCN. OK, so I've got a confession to make. I know these guys form the Manc music scene, and I've caught their excellent live show a few times now. When I mentioned that I would be reviewing their album for Soundblab I was roundly told NOT to mention Madchester, and if I was going to compare them to other bands, then please let it be bands from New York. Which is all fine and dandy, until you actually listen to the music, and realise that it really couldn't have come from any other city or any or point in time than right now.
You see, Manchester has a very mixed relationship to its own musical history. While it's a city that has produced countless excellent bands over the years, it's also a place where the celebration and incessant revivalism of these 'classic' acts makes it harder for new talent to break through, causing a backlash against the scenes that made the city so popular. While there's a few key promoters and venue owners in the city who are guilty of this, much of the blame also needs to be laid squarely at the feet of the music press, who can't seem to cover a Manc band without having to mention (at least once if not more) desolate industrial landscapes and trench coat existentialism, or alternately Spike Island, 'avin' it and baggy beats.
I mean, I GET IT. I understand the frustration of trying to throw off the musical shackles of a previous generation only to have them dumped on your shoulders again by an extremely lazy press. But in the rush to forge ahead and leave the past far, far behind, aren't we in danger of also throwing the baby out with the bath water? Cos, at the end of the day, I LOVED Madchester! I loved (and still love) the Happy Mondays, The (early) Stone Roses, New Order, yeah, all that cliched old Manc shit.
Now, I'm not saying that Silverclub sound like any of these bands, but they do fit in this lineage of smart, funky, sexy 'indie-dance' (or whatever you want to cal lit this month). Take album opener 'Like Cats Eyes', which starts with a circular guitar part and a barely audible, spaced-out vocal which lulls you into a sense of familiarity, before being interrupted by a funky drum break and an electro bassline which pushes the tune into 5am post-club euphoric bliss. THIS is what I love about Manchester and its music - risk, adventure, a desire to push things forward backed with a true appreciation of how opposing genres work best together.
This is quickly followed up by the crisp-but-clattering electro-disco of 'No Application' and 'Fine Print', which do sound kinda New York-y, truth be told, but which are rooted a very English place by singer Duncan Jones' Northern drawl and his ultra-cynical take on the music industry's machinations. 'Pick Up the Needle' is all out boogie-rock, and the album's closing triptych of 'I Knew It', 'Remote Control' and 'Long Way Down' takes us from dirty, dancefloor electro to throbbing Krautrock/Steve Reich disco, all the way to blissed-out post-club sounds worthy of vintage Air, or maybe even Washed Out if they weren't so, well, bloody dull.
It's all held together by Jones' songwriting and his knack for crafting excellent pop hooks, leaving the production to experiment with new blends of the traditional and the new. The album's standout track is the excellent 'Your Headphones', which manages to combine all the previously-mentioned elements in one very neat, uplifting and supremely catchy whole. An ode to music and love (music as love?) this is simply one of the best tracks released this year, and if you don't believe me then hop over to the bands website and avail yourself of the free download (http://www.silverclubuk.com) and then try telling me this tune won't be in your end-of-the-year list.
So, guys, if you are reading this review, sorry, but I had to do it. I dropped the M-bomb. See, when I first moved to Manchester a couple of years ago, I admit that I got caught up in all the nostalgia for the city's glory years. And why wouldn't I? Like I said, I loved those bands, and I still do. They took pop and indie into new and exciting places, and they had a lot of fun doing it. And you know what, that's why I love Silverclub too. They might not sound like those old bands, but they have that boundary-pushing musical ethic married to a uniquely Northern vibe, and most importantly they have great tunes that make you wanna dance. They deserve to be up there in the accepted Manchester canon. And if they are looking for a maracas player, then I'm their man!