Why Fontaines D.C.'s debut Dogrel is an album of the year contender

It’s fair to say this debut album by the label mates of Idles, who were last year’s big thing, is one of the most eagerly-awaited of 2019 – and with good reason.

Sunday, 28th April 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th April 2019, 5:29 pm
Fontaines D.C. Dogrel (Partisan Records)

The last few months have seen the Dublin indie-rock five-piece become one of the most-talked-about new bands around, with a real sense of anticipation surrounding this record.

They’ve played a blinder in terms of the build-up, releasing a string of tracks as singles, and getting lots of airplay on the likes of 6Music.

Fontaines D.C., whose debut long-player Dogrel is being mentioned as an album of the year contender.

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That meant the album felt a little over-familiar on first listen; I realised I’d already heard more than half the 11 tracks when I gave it a first spin.

But it’s being talked about as an album of the year contender, and it’s easy to see why.

Singer Grian Chatten’s rich Irish brogue and off-key delivery can’t fail to remind you of The Pogues, while the use of repetition evokes thoughts of post-punk heroes like The Fall, Joy Division and Public Image.

Opener Big is a short, sharp introduction to what Fontaines D.C. are all about, while the radio-friendly Too Real is one of their big songs as Chatten asks “is it too real for yaaa?” over and over again.

That use of repetition is employed on one of the standout tracks, Hurricane Laughter, which was released as a single last year, “and there is no connection available” being the earworm/irritant (delete as applicable) in this case.

The languid Roy’s Tune shows a more melodic side to the band, while The Lotts sounds to these ears like early (Boy/October era) U2, which can only be a good thing.

Liberty Belle (do I hear a Libertines influence?) and Boys In The Better Land move the album towards its piece de resistance in the shape of closing track Dublin City Sky, one of the ‘new’ songs (ie that hadn’t been released before).

Chatten sounds like Shane MacGowan at his poetic best as he takes us on a journey around the grey, rainswept city which inspires so much of his writing.

Although it took a few listens to shrug off the feeling of overfamiliarity, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

For now, let’s enjoy an album which will come to be regarded as a classic. 8/10.

* Fontaines D.C. will play at the O2 Academy in Newcastle on Friday, 10 January next year. Tickets are on sale now.