Album Review: Fontaines DC – Dogrel

Album Review: Fontaines DC – Dogrel

Words by Gary Lambert

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There has been considerable hype about this Dublin band and what they could do, so I think most of our music world has been waiting for Dogrel to drop going on the amount of Happy Dogrel Day posts I saw on release day. This is an example of when Public Enemy get things wrong, you can most certainly believe the hype when it comes to Fontaines DC as these eleven tracks create one of the finest debut records in years. The excitement it generates in me reminds me of listening to Is This It for the first time and how The Strokes made everything seem possible with their simple, achievable and utterly brilliant songwriting.

There is a curious flow to the tracks on Dogrel as it almost reflects the confidence of the band growing as we get further in. The opening of the album with tracks Big and Sha Sha Sha represent a band who know what they want to sound like. It is heavily reminiscent of The Fall‘s This Nation’s Saving Grace, but the vocals of Grian Chatten are lacking the sneer of Mark E Smith which is a saving grace in itself. Grian’s vocals are so interesting too as he keeps a heavy Dublin accent which turns the nasal, monotone into a voice that stands out from the crowd. You hear a Fontaines DC song, and you know instantly it is Fontaines DC because of this.

The simplistic awkward sounding pleasures of Sultans of Ping FC‘s Where’s My Jumper are particularly reminiscent in Sha Sha Sha. The growth comes steadily after that with Too Real sounding a lot more expansive than the previous tracks. In fact, this middle section is musically from the same gene pool as Joy Division (but think more Shadowplay, She’s Lost Control and Isolation than Love Will Tear Us Apart). With the caveat that it needs Ian Curtis to be a proper Dubh rather than a lad from Macclesfield.

As the album progresses, the band grows exponentially reaching a peak with Liberty Belle and Boys In The Better Land which sees the band flexing their poppiest muscles. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting it’s anything near to pop music, but you can deffo through yourself around to it; and the vocal is probably more fun than anything else on the album.

Finishing off the album is Dublin City Sky which seems taken from the songbook of The Pogues as they mix traditional Irish folk music with sombre rock music. It is the musical equivalent of The Dead, the final tale in Joyce’s Dubliners in how it lacks the humour and connection of the earlier pieces but replaces it with a slow, touching piece that puts the soles of your feet on a Dublin street no matter where you are sitting.

This album is a going to be viewed one of the greatest long players of this era. It’s now up to Fontaines DC’s future output to see if they become one of the greats too.

You must listen to this album here. MUST.

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