Fontaines D.C. Continue Dark Post Rock Pilgrimage On ‘A Hero’s Death’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Coming off of 2019’s highly regarded debut LP Drogal, the Dublin based post-punk band Fontaines D.C. return with their follow up – A Hero’s Death. The band has eased back on the tempo from their debut as their tightly wound dark rock dips into various gloomy territories, painting morose scenes as it goes. Led by the seductively moody vocals of Tom Coll – Fontaines D.C. have expressed inward-looking feelings of exhaustion throughout A Hero’s Death, fitting into the world properly for 2020. 

Opening with the slow arty rock of “I Don’t Belong” the ode to individualism repeats its mantra over and over again. Chatten’s monotone downtrodden vocals with direct lyrics (not going much deeper than their titles) dominate the songs. This style will either pull in the listener or alienate as the woe is me gloom follows each song like a small rain cloud. The Manchester sound of Joy Division and The Smiths are embedded in the band while they also tip their caps to contemporaries like The Strokes and IDLES

Their talents are found directly on tracks like “Love is The Main Thing” which uses slapping drums and bass rumbles around goth-like guitars, and the more uptempo “A Lucid Dream” which kicks things into second gear with swirling layers of guitar effects by Deegen and O’Connell. “Televised Mind” is the closest to the band’s older sound with excellent drum work from Coll as the guitars work around the bass drone. 

The pulsing pounding of “I Was Not Born”, “You Said” and shimmying repetitive title track (which gives just the smallest splash of 50’s doo-wop influence) are all fine examples of the band’s style while the industrial dance beats of “Living In America” remains a bit over the note and done, dragging on past its due date.

The most interesting efforts surprisingly arrive when the band forgoes their heavier side, at least musically. “Oh Such A Spring” is an excellent mellow introspective number that turns down the fuzz and examines guilt, working-class pain and truth on the ground in a surprising way. The band also ends the record expanding on that motif with the ballad “Sunny” which uses backing vocals and string sections to develop a textured scene. Closer “No” is the best of the bunch continuing this stripped back style and points to the future of the band as the group can turn down the driving dissonance and focus more on expressive songs using laid back musical accompaniments.  

Fontaines D.C. continue along their pilgrimage by digging deeper into the gloomy hazy sound, while also trying out new stylistic approaches to explore their dark horizons throughout A Hero’s Death

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