Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Fontaines D.C.

Dogrel (2019)


                I want you to think of your favorite comfort food, maybe it’s something from when you were growing up or something you discovered when you moved out of your parent’s house for the first time. Nothing is worse than going to a restaurant and finding that item on a menu and it being disappointing. The exact opposite also holds true though, nothing is better than finding a restaurant that makes that comfort food well and adds their own little twist to it. When it comes to music, that’s how the umbrella term post-punk works for me. For years, post-punk was something definitive. It was bands to arty for punk, but too weird to just be regular rock music. As time progressed, the genre expanded to be anything to punk rock to be indie rock, too strange to be alternative rock, and too melodic to be metal. And there’s nothing worse than when someone says this band is post-punk and it’s the worst garbage you’ve ever heard in your life. Then there’s bands like Fontaines D.C. who remind you of Joy Division, Gang of Four, some elements of The Fall, with just a touch of early Cure here and there. But they still put their own original flair on it.

The real shame of their 2019 release, Dogrel, is I didn’t hear it sooner. Opening with “Big” the band immediately takes a driving drumbeat and builds an amazingly jangly guitar part around it. The guitar part has this sense of urgency to it that you don’t find too often these days, and the urgency and jangle suck you in just as the vocals kick in. Vocally, the singer sounds like a punchier Robert Smith or Ian Curtis had he been a tenor instead of a baritone. The lyrics are also literate, which is likely owed to the bands admiration for beat poets as well as a few Irish poets. While the lyrics never convert fully into traditional verse or slam poetry, it is certainly obvious this band understands how to utilize a metaphor. And more importantly, when not to utilize a metaphor.

The band keeps the jangly high energy tension rolling through songs like “Sha Sha Sha”, “Too Real”, and “Television Screens” before digging into a more chugging guitar riff style on “Hurricane Laughter” They do this without sacrificing any of the songcraft they built elsewhere on the album, with a bassline that wouldn’t have been out of place on any of Fugazi’s more aggressive songs. After this the band drops into near ballad territory on “Roy’s Tune” where they utilize lyrics that are personal and also socially aware, much in the same fashion The Jam did on songs like “That’s Entertainment.”

This band recreates the mood of early post-punk rather than just trying to recapture the sound. There are plenty of bands out of their who dance in and out of post-punk and a more contemporary version of new wave. But, all too often, those bands feel like they are from this era trying to exist in another era. Fontaines D.C. sound like a band of this era who are able to transport you to another era. They feel more at home in this genre their most of their contemporaries and many of their post-punk revivalists who've predated them. This album is near flawless, for a debut album it's jaw dropping how fully realized this band's sound and identity are.