Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Fontaines D.C.

  • Dogrel [Partisan, 2019] B+
  • A Hero's Death [Partisan, 2020] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Dogrel [Partisan, 2019]
As with Idles or Sleaford Mods, these Dubliners' 2019 debut couches their rage in chants not songs because tunes are too kind to convey their righteousness; the only track to originate with their guitarist is titled "Roy's Tune" in case you missed the difference. Sometimes they demand our musical attention anyway, as in the outraged environmentalism of "Television Screens" or "Hurricane Laughter"'s blatant all-systems-down. But the obvious-to-witty one-line definitions of "sellout," "idiot," "phony," and "dilettante" that hook "Chequeless Reckless" doesn't inspire confidence in their political efficacy or smarts. B+

A Hero's Death [Partisan, 2020]
As no one seems to notice because that can't be true can it, surprise success has agreed with this formerly scuffling young band. They've turned philosophical and accommodating, gentler and more melodic. In the album's title tune, where its title isn't uttered even once, the "Life ain't always empty" refrain and its attendant homilies aren't in the least sarcastic. And the opening "I Don't Belong" repeats "I don't belong to anyone" in four choruses a dozen times, adding a slight rhythmic fillip by ending each chorus "I don't wanna belong to anyone." What do they mean by "anyone"? Their punky fanbase is my guess. They're saying get with the program, fellas. Bring your girlfriend to our shows if you've got one. And if not, why not? "Love is the main thing," after all. A-