It’s rare that a debut album from a band as heavily hyped as Fontaines D.C. have been still contains the power to excite and surprise, but ‘Dogrel’ is that record. Arriving across the Irish Sea on a wave of anticipation and expectation, the Dublin quintet have delivered something that doesn’t just resist pigeonholes and easy labels. It kicks them down the street and into the River Liffey.
The poetry of Grian Chatten’s lyrics are striking instantly, their home described as a “pregnant city with a Catholic mind” on the opener ‘Big’. Casting his eye over Dublin with a keen, but non-judgmental, eye, he finds the detail and beauty in the mundane. Album highlight ‘The Lotts’ is an evocative description of life in the underbelly of a city that the weekenders don’t see, those parts of town familiar to all big city-dwellers that give a truth to the more famous picture postcard scenes.
Beating alongside that lyrical heart is a musical muscularity that shows that this is a band that is far more than just the next Shame or IDLES. Morphing easily from punk into new wave, each track hits the mark in a way that keeps the album thundering onwards. ‘Hurricane Laughter’ puts its pedal to the floor, the intensity increasing with each passing second. ‘Chequeless Reckless’ is pure glam rock, while early single ‘Liberty Belle’ erupts into scenes of joy that contradict its subject matter.
And it is that contradiction at the heart of ‘Dogrel’ that gives it its power. The closing Pogues-esque ‘Dublin City Sky’ hints at a band that could go anywhere next, one that could just as easily deliver a thirty-minute punk banger-fest as it could just mellow out completely. While everyone else is chasing the sound of the last big thing, Fontaines D.C. stand apart as a band who couldn’t care less about the sound of anyone else. Believe the hype.