Last year’s debut, Dogrel, rapidly launched Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. style of post-punk into the spotlight. Quickly, the 5 piece band has returned with 11 new tracks on their sophomore release, A Hero’s Death. This feels like a quick turnaround, even in these COVID days, but after spending multiple rotations with these compositions I will predict that A Hero’s Death will easily be one of the best brooding albums of 2020.
If you would have asked for my guess, I would have thought if Fontaines D.C. returned so quickly, their new record would continue the higher energy that their debut contained. Maybe even surpass it and bump up to the fever level of IDLES latest output. Instead, the band has turned the switch here on A Hero’s Death and found a confident patience that is both complex and intense. Every track here gives singer Grian Chatten a platform to simmer lyrics in your head. The songs feel like they have a straitjacket on but at any moment the straps are cut loose.
That restricitve feeling for Fontaines D.C. works well and makes each emotive delivered line more believable. Even the ballads, “Oh Such A Spring” and the closing “No,” not only give you a different viewpoint of this band but they prove you don’t need 11 bangers for a post-punk group like this to thrive. With that said, the title track is a mind blower with its background harmonies of “bop bop bop,” exploding guitars and Chatten’s heightened vocal push. “A Lucid Dream” is another song that just gets out of control with an enjoyable spin of instruments and his vocal performance.
For me, this record may be better than Dogrel. It is not nearly as immediate but gets in your head. The deep hitting brooding emotion intertwined with edged placing guitars make songs like “I Don’t Belong” and “Televised Mind” incredibly memorable as they really show a path for this group as I feel they are only getting better. When you can take a current modern band and hear flashes of classic art punk like past artists such as The Velvet Underground, Suicide and Television, I think you have something. A Hero’s Death is another exclamation mark for Fontaines D.C. and their next steps should be worth paying attention to.
Key Tracks: “I Don’t Belong” / “Televised Mind” / “A Hero’s Death”
-Reviewed by Thomas Wilde