Rising stars Fontaines D.C. don't disappoint with this powerful punk debut.
Fontaines D.C. is a name which has been rising fast in the music industry, and with good reason, as we can see with their high-energy debut, Dogrel. The Irish punk group really shine in this album, letting their unwavering ambition show throughout without compromising on the musical quality, making them distinctive in both sound and lyrics. There’s no doubt about it – Dogrel will be remembered as an important album in modern punk.
Their opening track, ‘Big’, could well have come from an early Clash album, had the Clash sang with lovely Dublin accents (I’m Irish, I might be biased about this, but they do sound great). It captures the energy of ‘70s punk and has a freshness that few punk bands have been able to create in recent years. It takes the band’s hometown as Dublin for its setting, a recurring theme throughout their debut. In this track, we can hear Fontaines D.C’s unstoppable drive in lyrics like ‘my childhood was small / but I’m gonna be big’. A bold way to start a debut album, but their potential is undeniable with a track as strong as this.
Soon after this, we get ‘Hurricane Laughter’, with an ambitious, roaring intro that keeps an unforgettable pace even alongside singer/poet Grian Chatten’s lyrics. Which is exactly what Fontaines D.C. stands for – finding poetic beauty within the raw emotion of punk. Few artists have balanced so expertly sound and lyrics, so Dogrel is a real musical treasure.
Dogrel maintains this power throughout the album, but some tracks catch you off guard with their softer sounds and melancholy tones, taking inspiration instead from the post-punk genre, like in ‘The Lotts’. But while they take a step back from crashing guitars, this song is no less powerful than the louder tracks. A similar feeling is present in ‘Roy’s Tune’, a softer track halfway through Dogrel. “It was the message I heard when the company said / There is no warning and there is no future” stands out in the lyrical genius Fontaines D.C., a hard-hitting observation on modern society.
And suddenly, we’re back to heavy rock – and the true musical versatility of Dogrel – with ‘Chequeless Reckless’. One of the albums shorter songs, it gets straight to the point, opening with the line “A sell-out is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money”. This reflects the true talent of a group that don’t need to hide behind complicated metaphors to create brilliant poetry in their music, and that refuses to shy away from strong emotion. Repeating ‘Money is the sandpit of the soul’ drives their damning disdain of modern society in true punk fashion.
Like The Clash, Fontaines D.C. have achieved a lot very early in their career, and I have to keep reminding myself that this is a debut. It’s very rare for a band to make such a powerful record straight off the bat, leaving fans and critics alike excited for what will be next for Fontaines D.C. Since they started releasing tracks from Dogrel, we’ve seen a lot of anticipation for this album, and I seriously doubt that anyone will be disappointed with the final product. There is no doubt about it – Fontaines D.C have a bright future ahead of them.
Fontaines D.C.’s debut album Dogrel is available now via Partisan Records.