❉ A triumphant portrait of the artists as young men, writes Cori Ann Smith.
Fontaines D.C proclaim they ‘don’t belong to anyone’ in the incredible sombre emancipation of their former selves, A Hero’s Death.
The Dublin fivesome swiftly smashed their way into the post-punk revival scene with the bildungsroman-esque Dogrel, gaining momentum on the live circuit, receiving well-deserved accolades (Rough Trade and BBC Radio 6 Music’s album of the year 2019) at a dizzying pace. Their sophomore offering is the dust settling.
Rich with lyricism and introspective hubris, the band reflect on their evolution with musical analogy and a tongue in cheek record title. Produced by Dan Carey (responsible for Dogrel, Kate Tempest’s Let Them Eat Chaos and Black Midi’s Schlagenheim), penned on the road for the most part of their international touring, Chatten and co document the bands growth in real time.
The band, consisting of Grian Chatten (vocals), Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curley (guitar), Conor Deegan III(bassist) and Tom Coll (drums) recall the claustrophobia and withdrawal from one another whilst on tour. ‘We experienced full journeys where we didn’t speak to each other,’ which Chatten follows up to make clear that ‘It wasn’t because we didn’t love each other anymore.’ Taking time out to rebuild, recover from the burnout and make sense of it all, A Hero’s Death is a collective reaction to the success of Dogrel and the exploration of a darker, more poignant sound. And I love it.
The off-the-beaten path Fontaines D.C are taking is asserted immediately, kicking off with a melancholy ballad in I don’t belong. This stunning, purposeful opener addresses the listener with a cadenced hook ‘I don’t belong to anyone’.
Televised Mind rips through with atmospheric post-punk melodies that compliment Chatten’s haunting inflections throughout,almost certain to be a live favourite.
The shortest and sweetest song of the album, Oh such a spring, employs dreamy guitar reminiscent of Jeff Buckley coupled with Chattens wonderfully poetic drawl. It’s hazy and sincere and my personal favourite.
Title track A Hero’s Death, is a wonderfully bleak anthem of introspection tinged with sarcasm as Chatten repeats ‘Life ain’t always empty’ accompanied by lilting harmonies from the rest of the band.Fontaines citing The Beach Boys as a major influence shines throughout here. The music video starring Aiden Gillen of Game Of Thrones fame as a TV host reflecting on his career encapsulates the mood of the song, and record as a whole, perfectly.
Finally, the band close with No, an wonderfully ethereal grievance with a nod to shoegaze. A slow anthem that on first impression seems bleak as Chatten vocalises his angst and fears. The band, ruminating over the fan response to this offering, acknowledging their subversion & survival of the curse of the second album.
This is a wonderful, brave record full of affecting melodies. It’s a beautiful example of success when deviating from the standard you have set. That sometimes, with risk, comes reward. And tremendous growth. Fontaines D.C are triumphant.
❉ Fontaines D.C. – “A Hero’s Death” released Friday, July 31st 2020 via Partisan Records. Pre-order the new album HERE.
❉ The first ever performance of the new album in its entirety, “A Night At Montrose, Dublin” will air 3rd August with live Q&A.
❉ Cori Ann Smith is a writer for We Are Cult. A Cardiff-based Literature grad, Horror nerd & eclectic Indie cindy, you’ll mostly find her immersed in a book or in a festival crowd, usually with a beer. Perpetually working on a book of short stories… @coriflowercheez on Twitter.