Fontaines D.C.: A Hero’s Death (Partisan) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020  

Fontaines D.C.

A Hero’s Death

Partisan

Aug 03, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Fontaines D.C.’s 2019 debut, Dogrel, placed them among IDLES and Girl Band as rising stars of the post-punk revival, but with an especially literate and distinctly Irish bend to their music. Dogrel went beyond fiery punk polemics and encapsulated the character and heritage of the band’s hometown of Dublin. With their follow-up, A Hero’s Death, Fontaines D.C. expand beyond out from the streets of Dublin. 

The band’s debut had a palpable sense of place running through the tracks, grounding the songs’ characters and identities as a result. A Hero’s Death instead creates a transient mood from the first track, “I Don’t Belong.” The song opens on an elliptical, winding guitar line, imbuing the track with a sense of uncertainty. It’s a less fiery introduction than that of their last record, but points toward the album’s outsider sensibilities. Frontman Grian Chatten sings of a soldier throwing his medal to the dirt, asserting, “I don’t belong to anyone/I don’t wanna belong to anyone.”

That transient grasp fills several of these tracks, resulting in a dreamy, ethereal mood. Given that this album was written during the upheaval of intense touring, the record feels less focused and more scattered than its predecessor. It too often lacks the propulsive weight of Dogrel, and often these songs feel repetitive, such as “Love Is the Main Thing.” The subdued vocals tend to drag on, especially with slower cuts like “You Said” or “Sunny.”

Yet there are still flashes of excitement that draw in the listener. The noisy and anxious atmosphere on “Televised Mind” sounds supreme, as does the swinging drumbeat and lovely harmonies of the title track. When Chatten flies into his animated delivery on “A Lucid Dream” or “I Was Not Born,” his shouting elevates the song up with the best of Dogrel and their EPs. There are some great lyrical moments throughout, especially on the closing track “No,” as the band explores a wider array of sounds. Beyond the spacey early tracks and fervent post-punk, there are traces of shoegaze on “A Lucid Dream” and the gentle folk lament “Oh Such a Spring.”

Fontaines D.C.’s debut presented a band with a great deal of character and potential and that holds true, yet A Hero’s Death is somewhat disappointing when measured against its predecessor. It is missing the stable spine that gave the band’s earlier work such distinctive character, and their repetitious, two-dimensional songs bring the overall package down. Still, when the band is at its best, Fontaines D.C. delivers an irresistible cocktail of post-punk storytelling. (www.fontainesdc.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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