Fountains DC: Skinty Fia Album Review

2019 already feels like the distant past for most of us, but for DC Fountains, it really must feel like another lifetime – and that has less to do with the pandemic than with their own meteoric success in spite of it. . Pretty much everything that defined this band three years ago when they released their debut album, Dogrel, has already changed. Once the rambling underdogs who wryly declared ‘I’m going to be great!’, the Dublin quintet headlined arena shows for crowds of 10,000 in the UK, appeared on CNN, scored a nomination at the Grammys (outside the Alternative category ghetto, no less), and crossed ‚Äúseveral appearances on jimmy fallonfrom their bucket list. Where they once revived familiar post-punk and garage-rock influences with pugilistic intensity, today they are more inclined to arrange choral harmonies and croon pressed can ballads. Even the band’s essential Irishness – reflected in their site-specific lyrics and embedded in their very name – is now up for debate: with four members currently living in the English capital, Fontaines DC can now be more accurately rebranded as Fontaines LDN.

But while a person’s identity can be strongly shaped by their family environment, it is often hardened by estrangement from it. On the band’s third album in four years, Lean fia, Fontaines DC details what it’s like to be the boys in a not-so-greatest country, as Irish expats who may share the same complexion and speak the same language as England’s mainstream culture, but who are instantly distinguished when their accents are revealed in mixed society. Named after an obscure Irish slur that translates to “the damnation of the stag” – which, for Fontaines’ purposes, functions as a living metaphor for cultural mutation and degradation –Lean fia is a record about life in a place that feels like home but doesn’t. Fontaines DC uses this sense of placelessness to its advantage, seizing the opportunity to reinvent itself piece by piece.

When released in 2020, The death of a heroFontaines DC already seemed eager to experience the post-punk revival they helped rally, frequently demoting to more moody and melodic territory. Lean fia further hammer home the fact that this band’s true peers aren’t IDLES and Yard Act, but rather bands like Iceage and the Horrors – bands that have erected rigid stylistic barriers only to delight in tearing them down with each subsequent record. Suitable for an album inspired by the move to London and the disappearance of Dublin, Lean fia finds its spiritual center about halfway to Manchester, a city whose rich musical history – evolving from post-punk to indie-pop, rave-rock and stadium-sized Britpop – provides Fontaines DC with a roadmap of paths to explore.

Leave a Comment