Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

Fontaines D.C.'s debut album Dogrel feels overwhelming and tender, caustic and soothing, an articulate blast of working class rage

Album Review by Robin Murray | 16 Apr 2019
  • Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel
Album title: Dogrel
Artist: Fontaines D.C.
Label: Partisan Records
Release date: 12 Apr

To say Fontaines D.C. are releasing their debut album Dogrel amid a cavalcade of expectation is almost an understatement. If there’s been a more anticipated, more discussed album from a guitar band in 2019 to date then we've yet to come across it – if headlines were pre-orders the Irish group would smash the charts to smithereens, and then create a tasteful mosaic with the shattered remains.

Following four absolutely essential singles, Fontaines D.C. have managed to broaden their caustic yet thoroughly romantic post-punk vision while remaining true to the razor-sharp precision that defined those early releases. Opening cut Big is 90 seconds of pure promise, rooting Fontaines D.C. explicitly in Dublin – 'A pregnant city with a Catholic mind'. 'My childhood was small,' asserts frontman Grian Chatten, 'But I’m gonna be big'.

Everything about Dogrel feels big, intense, bold. Sha Sha Sha is a tale of life outside the law, while Too Real is this blistering, razor’s edge post-punk belch, recalling everyone from IDLES to the dearly missed Girl Band. Hurricane Laughter races along on a bassline spasm, an unhinged, almost out of control mini-epic. That’s not to say that Fontaines D.C. are all punk bluster, though – there’s a romantic streak that’s worthy of The Pogues or Brendan Behan, such as that pleading line, 'I hate the way they use her' on Roy’s Tune or the sheer camaraderie of Boys In the Better Land.

Delivered in crystal clarity, it closes with the heart-on-sleeve balladry of Dublin City Sky, a kind of cinematic melodrama that transforms the bleakest of circumstance into something beautiful. Ultimately what makes Fontaines D.C. so vital is their ability to plug directly into a specific place – Dublin – at a specific time, and render that so universal. Dogrel feels both overwhelming and tender, caustic and soothing, a blast of working class rage grown articulate while retaining its primal howl.

Listen to: Big, Too Real, Boys In the Better Land