Nearly Perfect Albums #9

Dogrel – Fontaines DC

In 2019, guitar music was dying.  In 2018 it had only just survived a ten round battle with the newly invigorated hip hop scene when it decided to try and keep pace in a sprint round the block with the new raft of Autotuned robotic pop princes and princesses the big hit factory around the block kept churning out one after another.   Another battle ensued, but this time the result was more definite, guitar music got its asses kicked.

And so in 2019, we find a slew of guitar bands, sitting in the gutter, with their heads in their hands, their jeans all torn, their noses bloody, their faces dirty and tear stained and their guitars smashed in the corners, and not because they were showing off on stage, this is because they didn’t need them anymore, you don’t play guitar whilst working in McDonalds.  The future looked bleak and guitar music was just about to crown Rag n Bone Man as its new leader when from over the hill, five men with a Fugazi obsession slowly wandered into view.  The reinforcements, it seemed had arrived……

‘Dogrel’ by Fontaines D.C arrived at exactly the right moment.  It swaggered into sight, their singer (one Grian Chatten) spouting lyrics about how he is ‘gonna be big’ with such a determined sneer not seen since Liam Gallagher first shadow boxed onto a stage and told everyone he was the Walrus.  In seconds the boys with their guitars nodded and believed him.

Big – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

Its not just the determination that stands out in this record, it’s the authenticity and the striking images that it paints in your mind. Take ‘Sha Sha Sha’ for instance – which despite being an almost too obvious ‘Town Called Malice’ rip off tells a wonderful story of that dark hour that takes place when the pub kicks you out – there is as Grian barks “always tears…”

Sha Sha Sha – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

Yes you get the indie anthems in the waiting, like the rousing call to arms of ‘Chequeless Reckless’ or the attention grabbing earworm-y wonder of ‘Hurricane Laughter’, tracks that most indie bands would wet the bed for just to have the chance to record.  But its those lyrically vivid songs that stand out on ‘Dogrel’ like the sentimental ‘Boys In The Better Land’ which takes aim at the Irish Tourist Board and the way that their city is portrayed.

Boys In The Better Land – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

However, we have to wait until the last track for this to really hammer itself home, in the brilliant album closer ‘Dublin City Sky’ a romantic old drinking tune, that is evocative and rich in its love for not just the city of Dublin, but its character past and present.  It’s a song that deliberately sounds like it belongs inside a busy Temple Bar Pub (or any other area of Dublin with a pub to be honest).  It’s a fantastic way to end a fantastically nearly perfect record.

Dublin City Sky – Fontaines D.C (2019, Partisan Records, Taken from ‘Dogrel’)

4 Comments

  1. Walter says:

    I only can agree to your words. A nearly perfect album that brought back guitar music to my attention. Since then it was on regular rotation at my place.

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  2. JTFL says:

    Guitar music’s always on my radar, regardless of who’s paying attention to it. That said, I didn’t know this band until they came on the radio (Sirius XM channel) the other day and kicked all kinds of ass. Going to dig deeper into this totally worthwhile outfit.

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  3. Rigid Digit says:

    Dublin City Sky may well be the best song Shane MacGowan never wrote. Felt they dipped a bit with their second album (many do) but waiting expectantly/hopefully for the 3rd in the spring.

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  4. JC says:

    Fabulous piece of writing….the sort of reviews very few seem capable of writing these days. I did really enjoy the debut album, but to my shame, I didn’t pursue the follow-up. The fact it was being loved and played all the time by the 16-year-old son of a good friend got ne thinking I wasn’t the target audience. Another signpost that my ‘new music’ days are drawing to a close.

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