Last year, Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. released what what I considered to be one of the best albums of the year, if not decade, with ‘Dogrel’. All the more incredible considering it was their debut album. 2019 began with them playing small venues around the UK (see my review of their April 2019 Manchester gig) and ended with them selling out massive venues around the world.

Fontaines D.C. have just announced details of a follow up album, ‘A Hero’s Death’ due out on 31st July via Partisan Records and released the title track as a single. And it is fantastic.

The pressures of a follow up to ‘Dogrel’ would be immense. Singer Grian Chatten acknowledges this:

I was consumed by the need to write something else to alleviate the fear that I would never be able to do it again, when we wrote this album it was a reaction to the success of Dogrel

The single is a promising augmentation of the Fontaines D.C.’s unique sound – belligerent and driving music underlying Chatten’s apparent stream of poetic consciousness, using repetition and rhythm to express heartfelt observations of life.

There is certainly an added level of complexity to the background sounds as Chatten begins by optimistically repeating ‘Life ain’t always empty’. The rawness thankfully remains – the urgent angry guitars and driving rhythms and Chatten’s passionate exhortations.

The accompanying video is a chilling masterpiece in itself. Starring Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones, The Wire, Peaky Blinders), it incorporates the cyclical nature of the song in a nightmarish Groundhog Day where the descent of the day of the life of a TV host played by Gillen has an unnerving horror-filled edge. A fitting analogy for the age of isolation:

Of the lyrics, Chatten says:

The song is a list of rules for the self, they’re principles for self-prescribed happiness that can often hang by a thread. It’s ostensibly a positive message, but with repetition comes different meanings, that’s what happens to mantras when you test them over and over.

There’s this balance between sincerity and insincerity as the song goes on and you see that in the music video as well. That’s why there’s a lot of shifting from major key to minor key. The idea was influenced by a lot of the advertising I was seeing – the repetitive nature of these uplifting messages that take on a surreal and scary feel the more you see them.

It’s a blistering return for the band. The album’s title suggested a certain self-referential acknowledgement that a lot rides on this follow-up album, and that expectations will be high and loyalty tested. On the strength of this single, they can rest assured that normal service is resumed and w are all the better for it.

You can preorder ‘A Hero’s Death’ here and the tracklist is:

  1. I Don’t Belong
  2. Love Is The Main Thing
  3. Televised Mind
  4. A Lucid Dream
  5. You Said
  6. Oh Such A Spring
  7. A Hero’s Death
  8. Living In America
  9. I Was Not Born
  10. Sunny
  11. No

Feature Photograph Credit: Richard Dumas