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Silent Boys - Profile

  by Dixie Ernill

published: 29 / 10 / 2020

Silent Boys - Profile


Dixie Ernill examines the career of under-rated Richmond, Virginia indie-pop band The Silent Boys.

In early December 2019, an unsolicited message is sent to me from Wallace Dietz, singer/songwriter with Richmond, Virginia indie-pop band The Silent Boys. Somehow, probably due to my technical deficiencies, I don’t discover it until mid-January. Dietz has remembered that I reviewed their debut album, 'BeautyTips', about 16 years ago and is keen for me to have a listen to his band’s last two albums. They duly arrive by airmail and I barely have time to give them more than a solitary listen before jetting off to South Africa and then France almost immediately upon my return. They become lost in a pile of CDs and half -forgotten until in the height of lockdown they are rediscovered. In amongst the remote working, dog walks and re-evaluation of life, both CDs become regular spins and the quality of the music shines through, like the summer sunlight through my lover’s blinds. Then I learn of a brand new album being released in mid—May, and wow, the jigsaw is complete. Like The Lucksmiths in Australia, Northern Portrait in Denmark, Cats on Fire in Finland, Math and Physics Club in America and even The Bitter Springs in the UK, The Silent Boys have kept the flame of C86 alive in recent years without ever making a huge impact outside of a small group of clued-up fans…. 'ROADSIDE FLOWERS' (2015) After rattling out four albums in six years, it’s half a decade before this, the fifth album, is released. Whilst still firmly rooted in the indie-pop traditions of the earlier releases, 'Roadside Flowers' becomes the band’s finest offering thus far, mainly consisting of three-minute pop gems such as ‘Toss and Turn’, that sound like a mid-period Smiths’ track, the excellent album closer ‘Redemption’ and aptly titled 'Watermelon Girl'. There are also a couple of belting longer numbers in the shape of the title track about Dietz’s wife, Carlie, and the groovy lounge-pop of ‘Favorite Plaything’. 'BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON' (2019) This is a joyous pop album from start to finish. It contains songs such as ‘Grace’ and ‘There You Go Again’ that would easily sound at home on an R.E.M. record or 'By The Light of The Moon' and 'Hoodwinked; on a late 1980s' Go Betweens record. However it is the genius of the lyrics of ‘What Does She Mean?’ that really puts Dietz in the same bracket as Forster, McLennan or Stipe. TILT-A-WHIRL (2020) While 'By The Light Of The Moon' is probably a more consistent album, 'Tilt-a-Whirl' has a trio of absolutely killer songs forming a stunning centre-piece to the record. The dreamy 'Lawrence of Arabia', which is pure magic, is followed by ‘Last Time' and 'Beauty In The 21st Century' that jostle for best pop song of the year thus far. Indeed 'Last Time' is the kind of track that had journalists swooning in the mid-1980s when bands like The Brilliant Corners, The Chesterf!elds and a whole host of Creation Records’ artists served up this fizzing fayre. Elsewhere on the album, “Silencing The City” could have been delivered by Sarah Records’ band The Orchids. A point probably not lost on Dietz, a keen acolyte of the Bristol based label. Final song, “Simplicity” is reminiscent of 'Fly Under The Radar' by Australian band Stillwater Giants, which is certainly a good thing, and “City Of The Toppled Monuments” has a stark social message wrapped up in a great song. Making records for an audience of just one has always been Dietz’s philosophy on his own music. It is certainly an admiral one, but there is so much quality here that, given the right exposure a whole new generation of converts could emerge. The Silent Boys really should become your new favourite band!

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Silent Boys - Profile

Silent Boys - Profile

Silent Boys - Profile

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