Released in 2019, Dublin’s Fontaines D.C. debut was one of the rock albums of the year. Dogrel bristled with punk rock energy while the band toured the globe. Their second album, A Hero’s Death, was written while out on the road. Once again working with producer Dan Carey, this time around several of the tracks are more atmospheric and the sparks from the first album are more toned down with a weariness not previously seen.
Second single, “I Don’t Belong” uses singer Grian Chatten’s voice like an instrument as he changes his approach on several of the lyrics. Here, he sounds tired but ready to bite at any time. The pounding drums announces the beginning of “Love is the Main Thing”, the distorted guitars sound like a freight train coming down the tracks. “Televised Mind” sees Tom Coll’s drums and Conor Deegan’s bass lock in while Chatten sings “swipe your thoughts from Broadway/turn ideals to cabaret/water dreams of yesterday”.
On “Living in America” the band tap into their inner Joy Division with Chatten’s baritone growl doing a solid Ian Curtis impression whereas the guitars of Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curly at the beginning of “A Lucid Dream” recall early Interpol. “Oh Such a Spring” is a softer track, where the people “wish they could go back to spring again”. In this day and age, many of us are looking back to simpler times of early spring before the COVID pandemic started.
The band work in nuances not hear on Dogrel like the background vocals on “Sunny”. The title track was the first single with the band setting the tone with “oooooohhs” before Chatten tells the listener, “life ain’t always empty” and to “tell your mother that you love her/and go out of your way for others”. The “bap bap bap” vocals are sublime. The sparks of the debut don’t burn as bright but A Hero’s Death sees the band successfully moving in different directions.