In the spirit of striking while the iron’s hot, Dublin post-punk act Fontaines D.C. deliver their second studio album A Hero’s Death barely a year after their debut Dogrel won such universal acclaim. Stoic and energetic, it seeks to address the grander themes in life, but hasn’t succumbed to a dose of ‘The Big Music’, fortunately!
Vinyl Double LP £26.60 PTKF2182-8
180g black vinyl 2LP cut at 45rpm at Abbey Road Studios. Comes in a gatefold sleeve with 12”x12” photo/lyric book.
Vinyl LP £16.80 PTKF2182-1
Black vinyl LP on Partisan Records.
CD £10.06 PTKF2182-2
CD on Partisan Records.
Limited Vinyl LP £18.20 PTKF2182-3
Limited edition Stormy Blue vinyl LP on Partisan Records.
- Coloured vinyl
- Limited edition
I had worried. In fact I'd worried myself sick. Y'see Fontaines D.C.'s debut 'Dogrel' was one of those records that proved that, yes, you could after all throw straightforward guitar rock into exciting new shapes. It was my sleeper hit of 2019 because I started slowly with it, gradually worming my way into their world, increasingly enamoured with Grian Chatten's speak/sing vocals - finding nooks and crannies of the album that I could not escape from.
A year on the follow up arrives. The follow up album is possibly the most difficult statement a band can make and many fall by the wayside at this juncture. Lead track 'A Hero's Death' was a good enough start but I'd worried there was something of the self parody about it ....and those kick drums... and the reverb on Chatten's voice? Well I'm pleased to report that the album 'A Hero's Death' is as good as we have any right to expect. It's bigger, it's darker and in it's lesser moments it sounds like it was recorded in an aircraft hanger. But it's the sound of a band following their own path and actually improving on what came before.
Daringly it starts with the four plus minute plus 'I Don't Belong' - perhaps a song that mirrors Dogrel's 'The Lotts'. It's a great start. Shards of discordant guitar slide across the mix and Chatten's voice is low, deflated and emotionless. When this is followed up by the two chord dirge of 'Love Is the Main Thing' it makes for a bleak but impressive start to the record - Fontaines D.C. here aren't out to get you the quick Spotify fix. By the time 'Televised Mind' arrives you need to get the afternoon drinks in as you'll be in for the long haul. What is noticeable during the barrage of stream of consciousness that is 'A Lucid Dream' is the inventiveness of Tom Coll's drums. He's a veritable pocket rocket here, hammering out unusual rhythms that give the songs their distinctiveness. In fact Fontaines D.C. are all round a great band and if Chatten's personality dominates, it's what goes on in the lesser roles that makes them sit on a ledge way above anything that has gone on in guitar music for a very long time.
There's the odd lesser track - I'm not convinced by the bluster of 'Living in America' - and 'Sunny' is such a great album closer that you wonder about the point of the very similar sounding actual album closer 'No' - but there's very little to quibble here. It's great. Fontaines D.C. have proved that 'Dogrel' was no flash in the pan. A dark, dangerous, explosive and life affirming ride.
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