Hurtling towards being one of the most important bands around, Fontaines DC.
Their demeanour is nonchalant, but the music is so urgent, so frantic and necessary it’s as if they don’t have a choice. It’s heart on sleeve honest that isn’t syrupy or shouty, but reserved anger. Grian Chatten doesn’t see himself as a singer but it fits perfectly, half the battle is the pacing and cadence and it’s a tailor made glove.
Dogrel is the verse of the people, and he is a spokesman, he delivers because he has to; his poetry of the streets, a tumultuous relationship with his home city, with the Liberties in the heart, the opposite to the picture book Dublin we all see, the Liffey, cobbled Temple Bar, it’s simplistic poetry that the Irish produce better than most. Dogrel, you’re neither better than it nor worse.
‘Big’ opens things up “Dublin in the rain is mine, a pregnant city with a Catholic mind”, articulating how many can’t. It’s Chatten’s home, but whilst it grows there are those left behind. The Liberties are his origins, where the original Dublin survives and resides. A love/hate relationship like all the best narrators.
‘Sha Sha Sha’ uses such effective alliteration and homophones “two men and a rickshaw pumping up a tyre. Tyre and tire and tyre. Tire and tyre and tire”.
“Too Real” the calling out of those that question ambition, the drive to succeed and go out, pass the city walls and be something.
“Hurricane Laughter” is a mash up of the word of the street from the mouths of the characters that inhabit them, such as Bang Bang and Forty Coats.
The simplistic but jarring “Roy’s Tune” is an antithesis to the fast and the furious singles, the lament is cinematic, Grian is talking directly to someone, checking up on then “hey, love, are you hanging on” likewise ‘Television Screen’ steps back and is reflective, describing the world outside and away from home whilst also offering a distorted mirror image of life.
‘Lotts‘ has elements of Idlewild as they passed from their 90’s headless chicken punk to their REM influenced The Remote Part, liquid bass, minimal guitar, depicting the streets “Lott’s on the corner, she ain’t ever coming down”.
‘Chequeless Reckless’ calls out all those whose heads are turned by the gentrification of the city, the labels, the brands and the cash, because “money is the sandpit of the soul”.
The simplicity but in your face violent power of early single ‘Liberty Bell‘ is the closest to The Undertones style Irish inflected punk they get “You know I love that kind of violence that you get around here, that ready steady violence”.
‘Dublin City Sky’ is the end of the night last song. Last orders has been rung, the dregs of the drinks are being drained, and everyone is singing along as they’re booted out onto the street. A lament. A drunks lament.
Ultimately, they know how to get their hooks in and cling on for every listen. When you know that break down comes in on ‘Boys in the Better Land’. “Driver’s got names to fill two double barrels….” and then it thunders back “….he spits out “Brits out”. Only smokes Carrolls”.
The whole record was performed live with Dan Carey in London, Boys In The Better Land noticeably more frantic, faster to the point of collapse.
Authenticity has been an adjective bounded around, by the band as much as anyone else, but it fits as well as any other. It’s hard to argue that they don’t mean it. Maybe it is just in the delivery, that every stroke, utterance, beat, note has their whole being behind it. Be it gentle, droning, harsh, scatter gun, they want you to believe that they have to be doing this.
In doing so, they make you commit to it. It demands repetitive listens, it implores that you emotionally give your mind and soul to it. And then fucking jump, dance, cry or just stop and listen.
There’s an underground swell when a band feels vital, when they can depict their world in words like a Morrissey, a Richey Edwards, a young Kelly Jones or an Alex Turner. “The suits are running and it won’t be long, till the blues cop, what’s really going on”.
Fontaines DC are as important as they come, that’s what’s going on.
Dogrel is released on 12th April through Partisan.