Music can be frivolous, it can fade into the background, wash over you, set out to shock or surprise. Or it can be important. Debut album Dogrel from Dublin’s Fontaines DC is important.
Well telegraphed with six of the 11 tracks already having been released, it will nonetheless undoubtedly be one of the finest albums of the year, if not one of the most important debut albums ever released.
Fontaines manage to sound like no other band but like all of them at the same time. They’re not punk, but they are, it’s not poetry, but it is, it’s not about squealing guitars, thumping bass and drums, but that’s precisely what it’s about. Singer Grian Chatten’s vocals are delivered in a strong Dublin drawl, adding to the lyrics’ conjured images.
Leeds based Crash Records have a glorious recent history of bringing album launches to the city. Few had been as eagerly anticipated as this short 30-minute matinee set at the Brudenell, the crowd queued through the car park, clutching their recent purchased vinyl that also acted as their ticket to a whole different type of daytime activity.
Chatten paces, agitates, chews nails, stares. Then when the music starts all that nervous energy is channelled in only one direction. Lyrics are at times spat out, sung, spoken, depending on the story being told. Despite being virtually impossible to pick highlights from a six song set, Hurricane Laughter and Too Real took on a whole new life.
From the opening siren guitars to the repeated ‘And there is no connection available’ lyric, the former track punches with a ferocity rarely delivered, certainly not over lunch.
Dogrel will long be viewed as an important album, propelling a young band who met at university over a mutual affection for poetry, music and their home city through and ultimately over an industry all too often looking over its shoulder, seeking comfort from reflecting what has gone before.
Fontaines DC couldn’t be further removed from that world, innovating, stridently conveying their message, setting themselves apart in a way that is only just starting to gain momentum.
It’s hard to see anything that could get in their way and bring them to an abrupt halt.