Album #203: Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death

  • Released: 2020
  • Origin: Dublin, Ireland
  • Label: Partisan
  • Best Track: No

When Fontaines D.C. released their debut album Dogrel last year, I almost felt sorry for them. Here was a band barely out of their teens, nailing post-punk on their first attempt in a way some bands haven’t managed to in their whole career. Definitely my album of 2019, if not the decade, I did wonder where exactly they could go from there.

The answer seems to be to do it a bit differently. A Hero’s Death is not a wholesale change from Dogrel, but there’s not really a ‘Too Real’ on this record, or anything with the bounciness of ‘Sha Sha Sha’. In its place is a more sombre, reflective and personal work.

And it, once again, is truly stunning. I’m amazed how expressive and moving Grian Chatten’s voice can be, while remaining kind of monotone. He’s an old head on young shoulders with his poetic, profound lyrics (“You’re about as old as the last day you felt old”).

The use of repetition on the title track and fellow single ‘I Don’t Belong’ is powerful (I believe ‘Life Ain’t Always Empty’ is current a trend in Dublin’s mid-pandemic grafitti), while cyclic post-punk like ‘You Said’ is a new angle from the band.

The young Irishmen perhaps excel the most with the stripped-down, melancholy offerings. ‘Oh Such a Spring’ is perhaps the ‘Roy’s Tune’ of this album, and as for ‘No’, what a closer! This song simply leaves me in bits.

It’s difficult to say at this stage whether A Hero’s Death is as good or better than Dogrel. I have a feeling, though, that they might just have managed it.

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