Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel

by Mark Wallace Jr Rating:9 Release Date:2019-04-05
Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel
Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel

Despite only having been a band for three years time and just now preparing for the release of their debut album, Fontaines D.C. is as self-assured as any collection of musicians dropping music here in early 2019. Their debut, Dogrel, is a meditation on immediacy, a spit-in-your-face determination to be authentic at all cost. Across ten tracks, Fontaines D.C. find a way repeatedly to cut out the fat and twist-and-shout in the eye of a storm of which they are the sole creator.

The record begins with a half-measure bell and snare intro for opener “Big,” as primitive and straight forward an introduction to an album’s artistic intent as I can remember, all the while allowing us a brief glimpse into their personal history with a gritty chorus shout of “My childhood was small, but I’m gonna be big,” seemingly begging for someone to say otherwise. The album’s perfectly suited opening track is statement-making and thought-provoking from the very start, here forgoing melody, as they do the majority of the album’s first half, and replacing it with an aural gut punch to further back up their message of inevitable triumph.

While they are truly a sonic force at their most direct, the band reveal their remarkable instinct for composition on the album’s third and more dynamic track “Too Real.” Here Fontaines D.C. are able to intertwine infectious, stop-and-go power chord hits along with asking the listener, quite pompously so, “Is it too real for ya?” It’s tempting to answer “yes” until the reverb-soaked shimmer of the immediately following guitar part gives you a chance for breath.

While the first half of the album is built upon a foundation of strong, hard-hitting and snotty post-punk atti-tunes, the middle section of the album is where the collective bring their songwriting talent to bear, purposely killing the momentum of the album in favor of moodier tracks like “Roy’s Tune” and “The Lotts,” which show off what we may get if the band ages and becomes less interested in writing the monochronistic natured tracks that begin their debut. Placed back-to-back, the tracks soften the initial grip around the throat the band place on the listener from the go, and it is all the more appreciated as a result. The typically forefronted rhythm section of the band sits nicely in the background while vocalist Grian Chatten soothes our now battered ears in slow burner “Roy’s Tune,” while it is the all-too-perfect guitar work alongside Chatten’s la-la-la’s that nearly allow for a complete rest by the end of “The Lotts.”

This rest, however, is hardly made to last as the band follow up this mid-album come down with their most forceful anti-poetry, bringing us to complete attention and back into the firm grip of the Fontaines’ aesthetic once again. Chatten begins “Chequeless Reckless” heart in hand with a dictionary-esque, assumed personal manifesto of sorts: “A sell-out is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money / an idiot is someone who lets their education do all of their thinking / a phony is someone who demands respect for the principals they affect / a dilettante is someone who can’t tell the difference between fashion and style/charisma is exquisite manipulation / and money is the sandpit of the soul.” With these few lines, the band give us a small but poignant window into their worldview and, while the critique’s dystopian nature comes as no surprise given the preceding tracks, it feels genuine-- and necessarily so, as this kind of preaching has the potential to derail entire albums. Luckily, Fontaines D.C.’s insistence of authenticity and the integrity afforded as a result gives the band the room needed to keep the album’s movement headed in the right direction.

Dogrel is an album with few chances to stop and think, but one that begs repeated listens to achieve the same thought-provoking conclusions. Rarely does a band enter the scene with an album quite as complete as Fontaines D.C. have with their debut. Definitively, album title “Dogrel” is defined as “crude verse of little artistic worth,” and while the band may have their own feelings toward what they have created, I would disagree. Crude? Maybe. Little worth? Hardly.

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