Monday, December 16, 2019

Albums of the Year # 10 Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel

Punk Rock. There's no other way to describe it. Young Dublin band Fontaines D.C. have been drawing no lack of attention to themselves with gigs, singles and EP releases over the last few months and now their debut album Dogrel has arrived. And it's indisputably Punk Rock.

So how do you do this in 2019? These particular coals have been raked over so many times over so many decades. Often pretty poorly. In Fontaines D.C.'s case you do it with youth, energy, bile, urgency, thought and conviction. And they do it very well indeed.

The record is well worthy of the anticipation that's built up for it. They must be many, many fifteen year olds' favourite band at the moment. Almost everything on here is octane fuelled. Think The Clash, think Stiff Little Fingers forty years on with thick Irish vocals but not as a mere retread exercise.

This is record for the small minority who'd say that Boy is still U2's best record. Because sometimes there's just no substitute for that initial rush of blood to the head. That adrenaline burst of teenage energy.

Dogrel never lets up, just as you wouldn't expect it too. Just as The Clash didn't and neither did Inflammable Material. Fontaines D.C.'s agenda is clearly more political than personal though I'm not  always completely surely what their raging about. Irish identity for a large part I suspect. Mid record they show that they can slow things down too if they choose, with Roy's Tune, one of the most affecting things on here.

As the album went on this fifty three year old started thinking of friends I knew, who might like this record. People of a similarly advanced age to myself who were fired up by the first rush of this stuff in the UK in the late Seventies who would appreciate the fire in the record's belly. There are plenty of us still around.

Having let things slow down a touch they then turn things up again as the album draws to its close. There's a sense here, as with all the best Punk records, that the clock's ticking and violence is just about to break out but that the band are more than smart enough to manage and orchestrate it.

Dogrel is all in all a very impressive album. There are other people doing this thing at the moment. Sleaford Mods and IDLES among them. Both of these bands have several years, if not decades on Fontaines D.C. but the young colts more than hold their own here. There's even time for mention of a James Joyce novel, a nod to their spiritual heritage.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first fifty minutes in the company of Fontaines D.C.. They're a band with wit and vim and no little intelligence who know innately how this stuff should be constructed and projected. As they close the record off with Dublin City Sky an Irish reel with an indisguisable nod to The Pogues, Shane McGowan and that whole Gaelic richness of experience, sentimentality, poetry, fury and fire that we all know so well, I'm impressed. And moved.

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