Release Date: Apr 12, 2019
Record label: PTKF
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
The Irish troubadours come good on a debut album that offers both a storyteller's narrative voice and a snarling new vision of youthful disillusionment "A sellout is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money." Punk's obsession with authenticity might be long storied, but few have addressed it quite like Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten - a matter-of-fact definition, delivered in a sneering lilt. The Dublin band might have made a song-and-dance of their lyrical inspirations - 'Dogrel' itself is named after a form of Irish working-class poetry - but, to date, their stream of singles have focussed on white-knuckle speed and rumbling bass.
There are several ways in which, amid a swarm of industry buzz, Ireland's Fontaines DC have been described. Depending on the article, they're a bunch of misty-eyed poets, extolling the virtues of Keats and Joyce like a bunch of rag-tag Morrisseys with dirtier shoes. Or they're the next in line to tourmates IDLES' throne - a biting, visceral live force who've already taken over SXSW in a barrage of amp-scaling and high-intensity mosh pits.
This much-vaunted Dublin five-piece follow a series of increasingly successful 7-inch releases and acclaimed support slots with the likes of Shame and IDLES, with Dogrel, named for the "lowest" form of working class Irish poetry, and a debut to die for. Attempting to evade hyperbole here, inevitably failing, Fontaines D.C.'s first album is a record that stands shoulder to shoulder with some classic self-titled debuts— The Smiths in '84, Suede's opening shot in '93, or perhaps, if you're willing, that decent Stone Roses one from '89. Bear with us.
Whether it was the pint-sized bravado of the video to "Big" or their blistering SXSW set, attended by celebrity converts including Steve Lamacq, the anticipation surrounding their debut record has been stifling. Not that there hasn't been good reason for it; the cocksure protagonist in "Big" only worked because of the digestible, forthright nature of the track itself, and "Roy's Tune" is a wistful indie tale of life's harsh realities that belongs right up there with the early Arctic Monkeys output. The expectation certainly wasn't unfounded, even if it was distracting.
In its original form, post-punk was essentially punk rock with the rock stripped out, putting a premium on rhythm over riffs, atmosphere over songcraft, and abstract lyrical impressionism over circle-pit chants. And on first pass, Fontaines D.C. seem like faithful students. Over the past year, they've swiftly staked out an elevated perch alongside IDLES and Shame amid a young class of groups from the Britain and Ireland who are embracing post-punk antagonism as a necessary response to modern-day discord.
Fontaines DC are front-and-centre of a surge of Dublin bands that you will know by the end of this year. Along with MELTS, The Murder Capital and Pillow Queens, they are leading a guitar-based insurgency in the wake of the not insignificant tremors first created by Girl Band a few years ago. Fontaines DC have a lot to live up to in terms of the hype surrounding them, which is invariably being likened to the buzz that surrounded The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys before their stars went supernova with the release of their debut albums.
A mericans will proudly trumpet their Irish heritage even if their only connection for generations has been Guinness soulfully supped in a shamrock-festooned theme pub, but in pop this impulse goes the other way. Bono, Hozier, the Script - all allow their accents to drift across the Atlantic. So it's refreshing to hear a singer, Fontaines DC's Grian Chatten, embrace of all the bleating music of a Dublin accent.
Seemingly more vibrant than ever, the city of Dublin is still to be defined by a specific music genre. It is an exciting time with a broad spectrum of sound and expression and this has made Fontaines D.C.'s frontman Grian Chatten talk about his home town as "a sussed personal pasture" for music, a place where creativity is said to be 'heaving', and not just in Dublin, in Ireland as a whole. If this is a city recovering from the effects of recession, the creative environment is stimulating and dynamic.