Fontaines D.C. Are as Uncertain as Ever, in a Good Way, on 'A Hero's Death'

BY Ian GormelyPublished Jul 31, 2020

What do you do when all your dreams have come true? This is the question that haunts A Hero's Death, the sophomore album from Dublin post-punks Fontaines D.C. 

On Dogrel, their debut, released a mere 15 months ago, they presented themselves as a band out of time; young men besotted by romantic poetry, and sickened by the inauthenticity of modernity that has swept their home town. Praised for its grounded and authenticity and anthemic songwriting, Dogrel was showered with accolades, particularly in the UK. Second time out though, having achieved success, the "Big" that frontman Grian Chatten once sang about, the quintet seem less sure of what they want, the classic sophomore conundrum.

Taut and tense with a paranoid edge, the album is the guitar-band equivalent of a late-night bus ride, the record presenting a rootless expanse. You can picture members staring out a rain-soaked window at the endless stretch before them. Fittingly, A Hero's Death was at least partly inspired by escapist art made by creatives who build up the sonic equivalent of a fantasy world in which to escape.
The band once again bring a welcome dose of colour to a genre known for its bleak monotones. They even inject some beautiful Beach Boys harmonies into the brooding "Sunny." Brian Wilson, patron saint of Southern California pop, is an unlikely influence for an Irish post-punk band, but the interiority of his most introspective work can be heard across the record. 

The propulsive spark that lit their debut lingers, keeping the record from drifting off into malaise.  There a certainty to their uncertainty. They embrace ambiguity. Fontaines D.C. might be unsure of what they want, but they damn well know what they don't when they see it.

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