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Published on May 17th, 2019 | by voxx

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Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

The poetry-inclined punks use Dublin as a backstop for a striking debut…

An upside to the world straining at its seams is the surge of bolshy new bands that have emerged in response. Much like The Clash did with West London in the ’70s, Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. focus their displeasure through the drizzle-soaked prism of their home city – streets filled with lost souls, drunks and fading ghosts of the past. The band’s debut, Dogrel, roars into life with ‘Big’, a noisy rush and push to claim the place as their own, frontman Grian Chatten shouting his ambitions (“Dublin in the rain is mine!”) over a clattering march of drums and guitar.

Throughout, it’s Chatten who gives the album its character. Half-singing, half-speaking in an almost comically thick brogue, he flattens vowels and rolls his r’s with relish, barking out a string of lyrics that move from disdainful polemic (‘Chequeless Reckless’ with its broadside against sellouts, idiots, phonies and dilettantes) to wordy, more impressionistic snapshots (the group cite James Joyce as a key influence and have already published two books of poetry).

It’s a rich feast for the mind’s eye, but what makes it such an enjoyable listen is the breadth of moods and shades the band conjure from their punk-ish set-up. ‘Hurricane Laughter’ might grind away like an angry cement mixer, but the likes of ‘Television Screen’ and ‘Roy’s Tune’ sigh with a gentle, wistful sadness. There’s echoes of The Cure’s ‘A Forest’ lurking within ‘The Lotts’, The Undertones in the scratchy adrenaline rush of ‘Boys In The Better Land’ and on teary-eyed closer ‘Dublin City Sky’, Shane MacGowan fronting The Velvet Underground.

By striving to find romance and poetry in grim times, Fontaines D.C. have made a record to fall in love with.

- By Jake White


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