ARTIST : FONTAINES D.C 

ALBUM : A HERO’S DEATH 

RATING : 7/10 

LABEL : PARTISAN RECORDS

WORDS : HENRY CALVERT

Fontaines D.C wanted to be big, and their debut album Dogrel did just that – as far as being big goes it doesn’t get much bigger than swelling anthemic tracks like ‘Too Real’. The Dublin born sweethearts have joined forces again with Dan Carey, the shadowy puppeteer who helped create Dogrel, for their latest album, A Hero’s Death. It seems the band have hit a point in the tracks at high speed and chosen to take on us a scenic detour through the country, a small interlude on your journey from A to B that you definitely do not mind. Dogrel opened the floodgates for Fontaines D.C and they drowned in an abundance of acclaim and fans that spanned the globe, even the fiery tone that lead singer Grian Chatten ejected from his tainted mouth couldn’t keep the water from seeping into their lungs – the band said “Our souls were kicking back against walls that were closing in. We had no space for ourselves. Our souls had nowhere to live, nowhere to lie.”. A few sharp coughs later the tide has settled, water ejected, they can finally breathe, and here they lie sodden on the shoreline presenting to us what was nearly A Hero’s Death. 

A Hero’s Death is always moving, it wasn’t only written in transit as the band clocked up miles around the world, but it allows us to walk a mile in their footsteps through the immense soundscapes they create

Fittingly the album starts with ‘I Don’t Belong’, instantly setting the tone for what’s to come in bursts throughout the next 11 tracks. With downcast guitars and drawn out vocals it almost feels desolate, flat and bare, without fierce excitement and lacking a complete sense of urgency. Despite this Grian’s grinding repetition of (I don’t belong to anyone / I don’t wanna belong to anyone) will be seared into the backseat of your brain as you continue through – they’re not your band, and they won’t be owned by any label or printed press, they’re on their own ride from here on out, and rightly so. 

Dublin was the static heroine Dogrel focused around, but A Hero’s Death is always moving, it wasn’t only written in transit as the band clocked up miles around the world, but it allows us to walk a mile in their footsteps through the immense soundscapes they create, this journey of constant excess may have devoured them but we can hear them clawing back their own identities through this series of scattered thoughts .Living in America is a perfect example of this, it makes you feel trapped, your skin clammy and your lungs gasping for breath, recreating the feeling of burning rubber across an entire nation in a packed van – an act that should be completely liberating in itselfF, but can at times make you feel more trapped than you ever did before, drawing upon a lesser sense of belonging. 

This album is definitely not a step forward, but more a step onto the adjacent track

The album does have its joyous moments though, in ‘I Was Not Born’ the rolling beat and crashing cymbals create the feeling any poolside entertainer could dream of, it’s the musical equivalent of “now clap with us”, except there is a genuine buzz created and these are not fake smiles. However, you can’t help but feel that I Was Not Born really doesn’t sit right, it feels out of place and disjointed within the context of A Hero’s Death, as this sporadic moment of joy is cuddled by the melancholy surrounding it. But don’t let this dissuade you the tempo beaks and troughs throughout, one of the highs being ‘A Lucid Dream’, which could sure see a room turn into a feeding frenzy, it has a break at its core (perfect time for you to catch your breath) before the cacophony ensues and these metaphorical limbs are ejected in every direction. Previous releases have managed to capture the ferocity of their live performances but it will definitely be interesting to see how these more subdued offerings settle in a live atmosphere. 

This album could have been seen as a huge gamble, and there are many who will be dissatisfied with this offering, but someone’s trash is always another’s treasure after all. This album is definitely not a step forward, but more a step onto the adjacent track as mentioned earlier. Sure, it isn’t as fast as many wanted, but take a look out the window and soak it in, it’s absolutely gorgeous outside. But just as Grian says in the title track – bring your own two cents never borrow them from someone else – so go and listen to A Hero’s Death now and think for yourself.

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