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Fontaines D.C. - A Hero's Death

When Fontaines D.C. broke onto the scene a few years back with their haunting yet infectious Darklands sessions they felt like a fantastic personal discovery; an underground group with something unique within their midst. However, it was somewhat of a surprise to see how nationally recognised they became. The cleaner, more in-your-face edits of tracks like ‘Boys In The Better Land’ and ‘Liberty Belle’ made a firm statement, showing their overwhelming songwriting talent and making their debut album ‘Dogrel’ one of the finest of its kind.

Now, only just over a year later, Dublin’s post-punk torchbearers have returned with their new record ‘A Hero’s Death’, out JULY 31st.

When a follow-up album arrives in such a short time, it is inevitable that it is going to be closely compared to its predecessor. The first noticeable comparison is well illustrated by the opening tracks of the two records. 'Dogrel’s' ‘Big’ kicks off the album in rapid pace at just 1 minute 46, filled with a bold confidence and delivered with angst it sets the scene for a noisy landscape ahead. The first track on the new album however, ‘I Don’t Belong’ is a slower, more atmospheric introduction and does well to shed light on how ‘A Hero’s Death’ differs from their first record.

The new album is more indulgent; more considered. It is flooded with hypnotic riffs and expansive guitar effects that create a largely melancholic, haunting landscape with only brief moments of angst fuelled intensity. Tracks like ‘Love Is The Main Thing’ and ‘A Lucid Dream’ build a swirling atmosphere that enraptures you, like you are caught in the midst of a hurricane with the scattered words of Grian Chatten at the centre of it all. As well as being more atmospheric, many of the new tracks are less optimistic than the head-bobbing sounds of 'Dogrel'. The opening two tracks offer no real hope lyrically or musically, emanating a sombre tone. Although these tracks were of course written before lockdown began, they are strangely appropriate now. The repetitive, almost mundane nature of these melancholy tracks feels like the sound of solitude and resonates with you to a greater extent having been isolated over these past months.

However, this is not to say that the album is slow and lacks the energy of their debut. The new album is still packed full of tracks to get the blood pumping. The singles ‘Televised Mind’ and ‘A Hero’s Death’ alongside the rolling rock & roll sounds of ‘I Was Not Born’ project an infectious intensity that bunkers you inside the incessant drum patterns and intricate weaving of guitars. It is tracks like these that can put any fans mind at rest who was worried the tour for this album would lack the rip-roaring, mosh-worthy moments.

Having said this, this new collection is certainly coming from a different space. When delving deeper into the record you encounter tracks such as ‘Oh Such A Spring’ and ‘Sunny’ which divert from the band’s trademark busy sound into a more stripped back acoustic feel that allows the vocals to take centre stage. With only delicate guitars and gentle drums, a raw sensitivity shines through that we have never really heard from them before. These tracks also highlight another noticeable addition on this new record... the backing vocals. Perhaps most obvious on the title track, these barbershop quartet esc harmonies between the band members gives the record a very organic, natural feel as we can hear the band becoming one at many key moments (best sampled with the “What ya call it” breakdown on ‘Televised Mind’).

‘A Hero’s Death’ concludes with the heart felt ‘No’, one of the album’s most impressive constructions. It is a track plucked from the cavities of the collective Fontaines D.C. mind and a great embodiment of the album. Like much of the record it is more vulnerable and more honest than their early years, still carrying the same bittersweet charm at its core but with an added acceptance for what it is. It is as if their music has taken time to reflect on its insecurities over the past year and now feels ready to enter the light of day, still with angst and energy to show, but with its emotional underbelly exposed for all to see.


If you have the chance to see just one band when gigs return, Fontaines D.C. have to be right up there! Visit their website order the album or book tickets for their upcoming tour.


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