NOW PLAYING: A HERO'S DEATH BY FONTAINES D.C...
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Now playing: ‘A Hero's Death’ by Fontaines D.C.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, music sounds better on blue vinyl. Pre-ordered in May when it was announced, my copy of the second album by Dublin post-punk geniuses Fontaines D.C. landed at my door on Friday and has been on pretty much nonstop ever since. I'll cut to the chase, this album is fantastic.
If you buy this thinking it will be Dogrel part two you may be disappointed, it is a very different album. Whereas last years release was, on the whole, a ball of furious energy and sharp angles this is a more grown-up, more rounded release. That's not to say there aren't moments that will have mosh pits forming on the tour next year, it is just these are less frequent on this record.
I read somewhere that bands tend to put their best songs at the start of an album to keep the casual listener interested. If this was the case with Fontaines it is a tough break for new fans as the album opens with 'I Don't Belong', a slow, dark track with a Hooky-esque bassline throbbing as lead singer Grian Chatten repeats "I don't belong to anyone, I don't belong...' and follows up with 'Love Is The Main Thing' a downcast partner to the opening track.
It isn't until track three and 'Televised Mind' that the album starts to sound like the old band and they really hit their stride on 'A Lucid Dream', full force rabble-rousing anthem with a subtle break in the middle which just emphasises the explosion of energy again, arguably the highlight of the album.
After the noise and energy, it back to slower, more considered tracks. 'You Said' sees the band reflect on the 100 miles per hour rush of their last 18 months and suggest we all slow down a little. Nods to Interpol on this track too which are always welcome in my book. 'Oh Such A Spring' follows, a beautifully delicate ballad, lamenting lost love.
The single 'A Hero's Death' has Beach Boy's inspired 'bop-bop-bop' backing vocals but still sounds like a classic Fontaines track. This is a track that took a couple of listens before I 'got' it but now I'm itching to see it live. Same with 'Living In America' which sounds to me like a Cramps song with a massive Irish twang. Brooding is a good way to describe it.
If 'I Was Not Born' was delivered in a lo-fi distorted drawl I would have been convinced it was a Strokes track, as it is it sounds like The Velvet Underground on a trip to Dublin's fair city. The drum and bass hammering along as Chatten sneers "I was not born into this world to do another man's bidding..."
Penultimate track 'Sunny' is the only song on the album that I'm not fussed on, to be honest. To me it feels like the experimentation on the album has gone a bit too far. It sounds like the band are trying to create a purposly obtuse cover of a song from a cowboy film or something.
I'm not sure the band will welcome the comparison but 'No' feels like a late 80's U2 track with its guitar and stripped back vocal. Think 'All I Want Is You' and you should get an idea of what I mean. This isn't a criticism, the song is a fantastic cleanser after all that darkness and rage.
The album is darker than their debut and reflects the struggles of nonstop touring, the rapid rise to fame and has a heavy dose of self-examination thrown in for good measure. For me, it is a more difficult listen than Dogrel but it is too good not to stick with.
Tracks to try: 'A Hero's Death', 'Lucid Dream', 'You Said'...