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Fontaines DC

A beginner’s guide to Fontaines D.C.

It would serve you well to dig your feet into the sand, bend your knees and brace for impact from what is an incoming wave of post-punk revival from the shores of Europe. Thanks to bands like Dublin’s favourite post-punk sons, Fontaines D.C., the movement is picking up some considerable momentum, and the tide is rising higher and higher.

How can we be so confident? Well, we needn’t be. In their short but effective time as a cohesive unit, Fontaines D.C. have achieved what most of their peers never will. Their debut album Dogrel, released in 2019, was awarded Album of the Year by the iconic Rough Trade Records, an accolade that isn’t decided lightly. From there, Dogrel was tagged with the same certification by BBC Radio before being nominated for both a Mercury Prize and the Choice Music Prize.

Written and recorded amid the ensuing live demand for Fontaines D.C., 2020’s A Hero’s Death was glowing in the background radiation of the success of its older sibling and, via the process of osmosis, found greatness of its own, ending up nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2021 Grammy Awards. The list goes on, but we hear you: we’re whipping a willing horse at this point. Without further ado, here’s a guide to getting across the Fontaines D.C. hype.

‘A Hero’s Death’ – A Hero’s Death, 2020

The title track from their most recent record may seem like an obvious place to start, but really ‘A Hero’s Death’ is nothing short of a masterstroke from Fontaines D.C. Nestled deep within the tracklisting of their eponymous 2020 studio album, it’s not entirely shoved in your face – though it should be. The track is minimal, but far from dull. The urgency in the relentless dumbs, the hints of mania in the jangled guitar; ‘A Hero’s Death’ is walking fast and only picking up pace. We are motion-based creatures and as such it’s awfully difficult to not stick with the track to see where it’s going (and in such a rush!) Not unlike Robin Williams’ iconic line in Good Will Hunting (“it’s not your fault”), the hook (“life ain’t always empty”) is pounded into us over and over until we actually feel it as opposed to hear it. Fontaines D.C. will absolutely get your attention with this one.

‘Boys In The Better Land’ – Dogrel, 2019

So, you’ve taken the plunge into the depths of Fontaines D.C. – now it’s time to float. And what better PFD than ‘Boys In The Better Land’; a breakaway hit from the group’s debut album and nothing short of a new wave post-punk anthem. We’re guessing that components of this particular track will sound familiar and really, they should, as, if you want to talk about the process of osmosis (which we always do), there was a period in 2019 wherein ‘Boys In The Better Land’ made up a serious percentage of the world’s atmosphere. Interestingly enough, the track is the second last off Dogrel, never receiving an official clip despite its cult and critical success. And for its part, it does roll seamlessly into album closer, the gloomy ‘Dublin City Sky’, but it’s the combination of the two tracks that will have you hitting repeat every damn time. The conversational pace of the lyrics, the metaphors, the intellectuality, and again, the band’s expert wielding of repetition against our brains’ delicate neuroreceptors, all make ‘Boys In The Better Land’ a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. We promise you it’ll be no different for you, dear reader.

I Was Not Born (Live) – A Hero’s Death, 2020

Polished and finessed studio tracks are great, but there’s a certain magic that comes with a Fontaines D.C. live performance that plays a pivotal role in the steps between converting casual listeners into die-hard fans. Case in point, their recent live performance as part of the Jim Beam Welcome Sessions, which saw them return to iconic Islington cult rock venue, The Lexington, for a stirring performance of ‘I Was Not Born’, a deep cut from A Hero’s Death. Seeing how Fontaines D.C. comes together in real-time is a masterclass in post-punk performance. The complementing energies, the mix of stern focus, the unashamed chaos…This isn’t just a band that talks the talk, but walks the walk while doing it. Or, in this case, dishes out top-notch performances to sweaty rooms to force your attention whether you’re rubbing shoulders in a moshpit or watching from your bedroom.

If you’re in Australia, you can catch Fontaines D.C. performing live this December (details here). If you’re not, there’s still plenty more Fontaines D.C. to discover. Swim far, dear readers.