Album Review: “A Hero’s Death” – FONTAINES D.C.
Posted: by The Editor
The Dublin-based band, FONTAINES D.C. have now released their highly anticipated 2nd LP. Following up to their wildly successful first, LP, Dogrel, which cultivated a raw, punk sound. With heavy bass, very forward drums, and guitar tones that echoed an 80’s punk sound. On A Hero’s Death however, the band takes on a new tone that mimics the dark wave era of the aforementioned 80’s as well as guitar work that eludes a psychedelic 60’s sound. Although less “in your face” and aggressive as their last LP, the band still hold a familiar sound that generates a more cohesive collection of songs on the record.
Opening track “I Don’t Belong” opens up with some basic guitar riffs and drums that have a little more of a grim tone than what we’re used to from the band. Even lead singer Grian’s vocal delivery feels more reserved and depressing. With the chorus repeating “I don’t belong to anyone” that feels alienating whereas the previous record’s lyrics had more of a sense of community or at the very least appeared more inviting. On this opening track, it already comes across that this record will have darker tones, and a moodiness that emulates the spirit and sounds of Joy Division and other dark wave bands.
“Televised Mind” which transitions into “A Lucid Dream”, are two stand out tracks on the record. They incorporate a guitar sound that feels reminiscent of Clapton or Hendrix. The lyrics on “Televised Mind” feel like they have less grip. Just repeating “That’s a televised mind” for a majority of the song, that it starts to lose its meaning. As the song continues, it doesn’t seem to do anything that breaks from its standard structure that was introduced at the beginning of the track. “A Lucid Dream” at least attempts to break from the structure of “Televised Mind” by adding some space-y effects to the guitars and sharper drums. Grian’s vocal delivery on this track is a little more pointed, with the lyrics at least serving a bit more definition than the previous track. The track ends in a semi-chaotic burst of instrumentals, although keeping the same tones and space-y effects that were held throughout the track.
One track that kind of broke the mold a bit is “Oh Such a Spring.” A mellow track featuring very little instrumentals. The lyrics on this track are particularly interesting as they deliver a clear narrative that we didn’t really get to see from the other tracks. It reminds me a little of “Across the Universe” by The Beatles in its tempo. It’s refreshing to have something this mellow and fluid to break the album up a little more. Similarly, “No” brings that same kind of spirit. Stripping back a lot of the instruments to let the vocals shine. These two tracks may be some of the strongest off the record as they deviate from the overused tones throughout the album.
The titular track falls more into the band’s previous sound on Dogrel. With a more aggressive vocal delivery and lyrics that hold more weight and meaning. However, the instrumentals fall a little lackluster as they feel repeated or borrowed from previous tracks. The gang vocals introduced in the latter half of the track serve to give a little more of a punch to the track, however it feels unnecessary.
Overall, A Hero’s Death borrows a lot of different influences from regional legends such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Joy Division, and other English/European bands from the 60’s-80’s. However, this doesn’t seem to do enough to show diversity and experimentation on the record. It falls a little flat, having many of the same guitar tones and riffs seemingly repeating or not having enough to differentiate from song to song. It’s clear that FONTAINES D.C. have great talent and are heading in the right direction. Yet, A Hero’s Death wasn’t exactly their most shining example of their songwriting capabilities and uniqueness.
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