Back in late July, Fontaines D.C. released their second album, A Hero’s Death. Despite their debut Dogrel coming out just over a year ago, anticipation of a follow-up seemed to rumble on for an age.
Listening to A Hero’s Death for the first time while driving around sunny West Cork on July 31st, the immediate feeling I had was relief. Relief that Fontaines were no “one-hit wonder”, relief that they weren’t once dimensional and lastly, relief that A Hero’s Death was a proper album.
What’s new? says you
Where Dogrel blitzed the senses, A Hero’s Death involves you at every turn, giving you time to have a look a round and appreciate the show. There’s less chaos and fewer references to Capital boozers – both perfectly fine things on Dogrel.
In their place, the more considered approach sweeps in. Drummer Tom Coll controls “Love Is The Main Thing” throughout, giving emphasis to the lyrics in the process. “I Don’t Belong” runs smoothly and purposefully without having to tip over into the frenzied opener people may have expected; Chatten stated in an interview that they intentionally wanted a song that was the complete opposite of Dogrel opener “Big”.
This change of pace is most obvious on the leisurely, yet sombre “Sunny” and “Oh Such A Spring”. Within these songs lies the evidence that Fontaines have taken control of their craft, discarding ideas that to scrap the script could be career suicide.
Even on “Televised Mind”, a pacy single, we’re treated to catchy turns that draw you in. Again, more involvement.
More of the good stuff
Fontaines have never hidden their shared love of poetry (they collectively released two collections while at college) or its influence on their music.
While Dogrel had its unforgettable moments and lines, A Hero’s Death is better written for me, with the influence of poetry tickling every word.
On the title track for instance, perhaps their best song lyrically, we’re treated to lines like, “Sit beneath a light that suits ya, and look forward to a brighter future.” On the perfect closing track “No” we’re told, “And please don’t lock yourself away/Just appreciate the grey”.
These diamonds glitter throughout, the above are just the pick of the bunch.
In my opinion, A Hero’s Death offers more than Dogrel. It feels more complete than its predecessor, (although one of Dogrel’s core strengths is its wildness) and answers questions fans and critics alike would have had.
Hearing the differences between Dogrel and A Hero’s Death, it’s exciting to think of what the future holds for Fontaines D.C. Let’s just hope there’s always relief.
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Photo credit: The Guardian