Seemingly more vibrant than ever, the city of Dublin is still to be defined by a specific music genre. It is an exciting time with a broad spectrum of sound and expression and this has made Fontaines D.C.’s frontman Grian Chatten talk about his home town as "a sussed personal pasture" for music, a place where creativity is said to be ‘heaving’, and not just in Dublin, in Ireland as a whole.
If this is a city recovering from the effects of recession, the creative environment is stimulating and dynamic. It may be gritty, but it is romantic too. Fontaines’ debut is not slick, but rather an exposed display of beauty mirroring the current climate in Ireland and showing nuances of emotional and intellectual expression across artistic platforms incorporating music, poetry and visual art.
Authentic, raw and honest, it is eclectic, original and a work of multifaceted expression. Having gone the extra mile and explained the role poetry plays in their music, the band have also talked about how it brought them together, how music, at least initially, came second.
‘Dogrel’ has a clearly defined voice. It is about identity; it is about being proud of who you are and where you come from; your origins, background and cultural history. At no point is Chatten’s Irish accent neutralised, stylised or forced, it continues to work naturally with the lyrics and penetrates the album throughout, from the pounding opening statement of ‘Big’ right up until the drunken poetic quality of ‘Dublin City Sky’, a song where the band connect with fellow countrymen The Pogues, one of their biggest musical influences along with The Dubliners.
In between the first and the last track on the album, a rich palette of poetic expression unfolds. There is the soft sentiment and Joy Division-like atmospherics of ‘The Lotts’, a song that sizzles and builds gradually. Imagine an Irish take on a bleak, rainy day in Manchester. The brisk, slightly more energetically paced ‘Television Screen’, this time more redolent of New Order, settles before building towards a climax in the shape of the hypnotic, but ecstatic emotion of ‘Hurricane Laughter’, a track where the instruments genuinely do resemble the sound of a hurricane.
The compulsive nature of the lyrics is undeniable, but ‘Dogrel’ is not an apolitical affair, and at times clever and direct messages are applied. ‘Boys In The Better Land’ provides a possible clue to Fontaines D.C.’s political views, playing with the idea that it is possible to buy a life that is more desirable than the one you already have.
‘Checkless Reckless’ tackles the issue of people who go on diatribes about the world and talk about the problems and solutions without necessarily leading by example, or as Chatten puts it, "a sell-out is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money".
Dublin in the rain belongs to Fontaines D.C., and rather than being too real this album is just right, it is a ragged delivery. The trick lies in the seemingly un-filtered rawness combined with its stark poetic reality. The three components help secure this album’s position as an example of authenticity; authenticity in its most concentrated and truest form and expression.
Words: Susan Hansen
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