Fontaines DC: The Lexington, London.
There is something about the Dublin accent that lends itself quite brilliantly to poetry. And there is something about FONTAINES DC that’s just so thrillingly, instinctively right, I can’t even begin to picture where they might be in two year’s time.
The potential is huge and I suspect, part of it is still to be seen (so far hidden behind the poker faced eyes of vocalist Grian Chatten). They already have the Forum in London booked for November. And are, even now, a third of the way to selling it out. The horizon is already moving.
Let’s back pedal for a minute though, because this is important. Last year Fontaines (pre DC days) released a single called ‘Hurricane Laughter’ – to follow 2017’s debut ‘Liberty Belle’. ‘Laughter’ starts with a fuse-burning intro that slowly catches fire; you can feel the heat start to rise when that looping guitar eventually flares into action, like a succession of matches being lit….but it’s a full minute until Grian delivers his opening punchline: “I was towelled up to the waist, while you were fresh from the confession.”
And the steam, it rises.
Go back further and the imagery and the vocabulary begin to make more sense. Fontaines began as a gang, brought together by poetry. Before they even considered the sullied humdrum world of rock and roll, they would gather to read and to dream; to talk and share their frustrations. To look at Dublin and at themselves and explore the love and the hate they had for the place and the world beyond (and to think! Some bands still want to tell you at length about their horrible east London flatshares! Or having nice write-ups on compliant websites. In their first 6Music interview Fontaines DC reeled off authors and poets names instead of borrowed CD titles. What else do we need?).
In the end ‘Hurricane Laughter’ took a couple of weeks to sink in, but within a couple of months we’d played it a few times on air (each time it sounded bigger, or closer to a precipice).
By the time I first managed to see them (last Summer at Dalston Victoria, near all the flatshare boys) they’d just released single three: ‘Chequeless Reckless’, with its accompanying video, set in what looks like a dilapidated warehouse, populated by a ragbag of revolutionaries, lurking in the shadows – The Grian already attracting comparisons with Ian Curtis, an agitated but all-seeing Young Man (a young man who also strangely conjures up both Liam and Damon, although retro comparisons are a nuisance. Fontaines are the new breed, processing the current feelings of unease, trying to make sense of the jumble. That said, in the grand tradition of Young Men in pop bands, Chatten is mysteriously sexy, potentially deep).
The Dalston gig is thoroughly instructive though: it is more direct at times than I imagined; more punchy and economical in places than the records that far had suggested.
And they did it again in December at the Lexington. Barely a word uttered between songs, they were utterly compelling, off the back of another single, this time the more questioning punk rock taunt of ‘Too Real’; this time the opening line: “None can pull the passion loose from youths ungrateful hands/As it stands, I’m about to make a lot of money/Gold harps in the pan”).
Which brings us to this, the Single Into The Album. ‘Big’, if you’ve seen them. is one of those live set sparklers. Agitated and simple, this will be one of the mosh pit moments on the next sold out dates. It also opens the album ‘Dogrel’ (again: is anyone competing with this? ‘Dogrel’! What wonderfully contradicting notions of the record does that bring up?).
The album’s released on April 12. And, at least in guitar terms, will be one of the defining records of the year. I’m sure of that. It’s going to be an escalator of a year for them. I just can’t tell you how fast its going and where the escalator stops.