The much anticipated third instalment, Skinty Fia, from the Dubliners is released this Friday and sees them push new boundaries with their sound.
Fontaines D.C debut album ‘Dogrel’ was a fast paced, blunt record, describing snapshots of Dublin City whereas 2020’s ‘A Hero’s Death documented their disconnection from their Irish roots from being on tour. ‘Skinty Fia’, an Irish phrase which translates to english as the ‘damnation of the deer’, sees the band address their Irishness from afar now that they are residing in London but being acutely aware for the need to broaden their horizons whilst acknowledging the affection they still feel for their motherland. Bassist Connor Deegan III explains “It’s about being Irish and expressing that in London, and what can you take with you that makes you feel connected to home,”
The opener “In ár gCroíthe go deo” (meaning In Our Hearts Forever) starts with a chilling bassline, choir-esqe backing vocals and lead singer Grian Chatten’s haunting lines of ‘Gone is the day, gone is night, gone is day’. The inspiration for the song was taken from a story in the Irish Times about a woman in England battling the The Church of England for permission to have the inscription on her gravestone but to be told the Irish language was too provocative. The woman eventually won out but having your sense of identity threatened is all too real in today’s world.
‘Big Shot’ was written and put together by guitarist Carlos O’Connell after blasting out Nirvana’s Live at Reading album to clear some lockdown cobwebs. The song covers how success can go to musicians heads and their insignificance in the greater scheme of things. ‘How Cold Love Is’ with its hypnotic lyrics is a perfect example of how this album has seen the band dive deeper under the surface.
The radio friendly ‘Jackie Down The Line’ glues the middle of the record together and proceeds two of my favourite numbers in ‘Bloomsday’ and recent released single “Roman Holiday’. The vocal on ‘Bloomsday’ is perfectly morose with the melody complimenting it every step of the way. ‘Roman Holiday’ is in my eyes the classic Fontaines sound with its captivating guitar riff.
The curveball track on the album but the one doused in traditionalism is ‘The Couple Across The Way’ – set to an accordion, which was a Christmas present received by Grian, and inspired by a rowing couple that he observed. Perfectly describing a fracturing relationship ‘I forget the thrill of lies, the truth escaping through the eyes, now, you use voices on the phone, that once were spent on me’.
Title track ‘Skinty Fia’ provides a driving bass line and sees the band flirt with an electronic sound after drummer Tom Coll had been exploring Roni Size and Goldie breakbeats. ‘I Love You’ is an ode to Ireland displaying Chatten’s ferocious delivery that hits you square in the face. The Conor Curley penned ‘Nabokov’ closes the album which describes a one sided relationship and sees Chatton taking his vocals to searing new levels under an ethereal backdrop of shoegaze vibes.
This record is everything we have come to love from Fontaines D.C but with them delving deeper into a place of maturity and confidence with greater expansiveness to the songs. This is an album to be listened to from start to finish as a whole piece with each track effortlessly complementing the next. A serious contender for our record of the year already.
Recommended tracks – Bloomsday, Roman Holiday, I Love You, Nabokov.