Album Review: Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death

A Hero’s Death

Fontaines D.C. release their album number #2 titled ‘A Hero’s Death on 31st July.

Pre-Order ‘A Hero’s Death here –

Back in December last year, amazingly the same year that the band released their Mercury Music Prize nominated debut album ‘Dogrel’, Fontaines D.C. announced that their follow-up album was recorded and inspired by The Beach Boys.

The Dubliners have already released three tracks from the album and these have been very moody compared to the cheeky charm of ‘Dogrel’. The title track ‘A Hero’s Death‘ came first, the tune’s lyrics are a list of positive rules which intentionally lose their meaning by being repeated over and over in this clever way. ‘I Don’t Belong‘ which opens ‘A Hero’s Death’ is an anti-‘Big’ anthem, ‘Big’ is the opening track on ‘Dogrel’ so this is a fitting way to open the new album and the tune immediately takes you on a different journey. The final track pre-released was ‘Televised Minds‘ which was inspired by The Prodigy and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, again Fontaines D.C. use their disorientating and hypnotic repetitive lyrics technique which the band have mastered the art of.

A Hero’s Death‘ and ‘Television Minds‘ were written before the debut album and this makes the second album almost feel like a greatest hits compilation as you can hear the band transitioning as the album motors on. The first half of the album is menacing, this tension is amplified by the drummer Tom Coll sounding like machine-gun fire but the second half is where you can hear a little Beach Boys inspiration, not as much as we were led to believe but still, the band explore with some ballads and a bit of folk.

Living In America‘ is the most intimidating on a ‘A Hero’s Death’, the track is dark, hits you hard from many different directions and keeps you on edge throughout but when the vocals hauntingly ring out “Living in Americ-arggghh” that is the real menacing moment.

A Lucid Dream‘ is the most ‘Dogrel’ sounding on the album, the bass is reminiscent of Peter Hook in Joy Division and rumbles alongside more gunfire drums. The track breaks and goes quiet leaving frontman Grian Chatten’s vocals to stand front and centre before a massive, mosh pit inducing finale to the track. This leads into the first ballad ‘You Said‘.

You Said‘ is the first time Fontaines D.C. have given us a mellow tune in this style, it’s laced with emotion and Chatten even sounds a little Damon Albarn like. ‘Sunny‘ is also a brilliant, dreamy ballad with a string section and amazing vocal harmonies. The melody which shines the band in a different light shows the capability that this band hold in their abilities, I guess you could say the track is European coffee shop sounding.

The most radio-friendly moment of the album comes with ‘I Was Not Born‘, this will be the big single from ‘A Hero’s Death’, the tune is what most band’s would have returned with but no, not Fontaines D.C., they have held this one back so far. Think Kings of Leon‘s ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ album and you will be in the right area.

The album ends with ‘No‘, the third ballad from the Dubliners, this has a post-Britpop, late 90’s vibe running through the tune. The lyrics that end the album are at such a different sound level compared to the rest of the music, it makes for a breathtaking listen. When Chatten sings “Feel” like “Feeeeeeee-eeell” it gains to a frequency which you really do feel inside during the final ‘eeell’. This is during the lyrics, “Even though you don’t know, even though you don’t, you feel, you feel.” This is the highlight from the vocals point on ‘A Hero’s Death’ and a sublime way to finish the album.

Fontaines D.C. could have easily released a similar album to ‘Dogrel’ and nobody would have batted an eyelid, but what the band have done is to push themselves further by releasing an album which is darker  and filled with so much more emotion. ‘A Hero’s Death’ further establishes Fontaines D.C. as the most exciting band around at the moment.

(Review byMarc Whiffen)

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