Fontaines release their highly anticipated second album A Hero’s Death
Label: Partisan Records
When you’re the best thing to come out of Ireland since Roy Keane, with a critically-acclaimed debut album already under your belt, where can you go next? Fortunately, there’s no dreaded curse of the second album for Dublin five-piece Fontaines D.C. as they showcase an evolved sound which firmly consolidates their status as one of the best bands from this part of Europe.
What A Hero’s Death lacks in places is the accessible, energetic feel of Dogrel. They’ve still got elements of that Celtic punk oomph there, but it’s all a little bit more dark. On ‘Love is the Main Thing’, a track that wouldn’t have been out of place on Joy Division classic Closer, the quintet combine for an altogether chaotic, but thrilling, four minutes of discordant post-punk. Grian Chatten’s haunting vocals over Tom Coll’s drums and Conor Deegan III’s bass live long in the mind, setting the tone for an album that’s a little more considered than its predecessor.
It seems as if the band have gone with the tried-and-tested formula of making the most radio-friendly, anthemic tracks the singles. That makes sense, with ‘Televised Mind’ in particular being a real earworm – it feels like a spiritual successor to Dogrel’s ‘Hurricane Laughter’, exuding the same sort of energy. However, gems can be found across the album. ‘You Said’ isn’t quite as frenzied and high-octane as most of the FDC discography, with more of a shoegaze-infused sound than we’ve seen from them previously. After a fast start, it offers a few minutes to catch our breath – its steady beat and emotive vocals feel like a suitable end to the first half of the record.
If ‘You Said’ rounds of the first half, ‘Oh Such A Spring’ eases the second half into play with folk-rock melodies. “I watched all the folks go to work/Just to die” croons Chatten over gentle riffs before the song comes to a conclusion and we go straight back into punk territory with the titular track ‘A Hero’s Death’. It’s probably the most ‘Dogrel’ track on the album, with Chatten firmly in the role of punk poet, which is where he’s definitely at his best.
“This is us as people,” he explains of the album. “If people can’t accept it or don’t like it, then their band is gone.” This more personal side of the band really comes to life as A Hero’s Death goes on, as tracks become a little slower and more elongated – album closer ‘No’ is a stunning five-minute-long post-punk ballad of sorts, with Chatten’s vocals reverberating around and the guitar managing to be simultaneously forceful and tender. It’s an emphatic way to round off proceedings.
If you’re expecting Dogrel 2: Electric Boogaloo, you might be disappointed on first listen. It’s one hell of a debut album to live up to, but the lads aren’t too far off the mark with this one. With slight stylistic changes and growth in their sound, there’s a definite difference, but it’s one that we should join the band in fully embracing.
Listen to the new Fontaines DC album A Hero’s Death below on Spotify.
‘I’m a music and culture journalist currently based in the West Midlands. Always on the lookout for up-and-coming artists but my favourite bands include IDLES and Arctic Monkeys. Probably last seen at a gig.