A Hero’s Death
2020 – Rock / Punk
With a more abstract composition and sharper instrumental, the second album by Irish band Fontaines D.C., A Hero’s Death, is great, deep, hypnotic, intense and works as a kind of obscure energy that involves the listener.
By definition, Post-Punk is a musical genre that carries the fast and loud sound of Punk worked in with more intimate and poetic lyrics. An example of this is that, last year, nothing was as intense as Dogrel, the debut album by Dublin’s Post-Punk band Fontaines DC, which seem to have understood the theory and essence of this gender in the deepest layers. While they played with guitars and heavy drums in the air, screaming and wailing, their lyrics took listeners to Dublin’s tourist spots, telling, in detail, what it was like to live and feel Dublin. You must think: “It must take a long time to put together such an ambitious, intense, well-written and well-produced album.” In a way, this is true, however, the creativity and determination of the Irish band does not allow its members to suffer from this limitation. So, a little over a year after their great debut, they release their second album, A Hero’s Death, which arrives in an intense way talking about accession to fame.
Written, recorded and produced during the 2020 quarantine, A Hero’s Death arrives like a kick in the door. The band’s second album is grand, With a more abstract composition and sharper instrumental, the second album by Irish band Fontaines D.C., A Hero’s Death, is complex, deep, hypnotic, intense and works as a kind of obscure energy that involves the listener. Honoring the roots of Post-Punk, each song here works as a catalyst that will suck the listener into a kind of dark universe, where the lyrics tell metaphorical poetry while the guitars, basses, drums and synthesizers compete to see who can create the most dense, heavy and deep sound. Undoubtedly, it is one of those projects that is difficult to describe because it is so intense that you can barely understand what you are feeling and what is happening. In the end, even with the weak points that are perceived, A Hero’s Death is an excellent album and shows that the guys from Dublin can still understand and produce something that conveys the Post-Punk’s essence.
Certainly, A Hero’s Death‘s strongest point is its sound, which, in addition to being extremely well produced and deep, is largely responsible for making the listener fall into this kind of black hole while listening to this album. During its almost 50 minutes, the album manages to seduce, embrace and win the listener with intriguing string arrangements, violent drum rhythms and charming-disturbed synth sound. In the opening track, “I Don’t Belong,” while the instruments are arranged and played in a linear and intelligent way, creating a great progression, and the vocals are used in an incredible and captivating way, the vocalist, Grian Chatten, sings repeatedly and tirelessly, “I don’t belong to anyone,” responding to the numerous criticisms he received on their first album. As much as some of the repetitions sound tiring, everything else pays off, making this the perfect track to start the project, not only because it manages to prepare you for the album, but also because it works as a catalyst for everything here.
Like the opener, all the other tracks on the album revolve around statistical excellence. Most of the time, the songs here know how to build a progression; how to grab the listener and not let him run; how and when to introduce certain elements and how to use them in the best way; and how to make the tracks flow almost naturally. The best example of this is one of the best on the album, “A Lucid Dream.” At the beginning of the track, we have a kind of noisy piano that, soon after being accompanied by beats on a drum, evolves into a synthetic mix of various strings, percussions and synthesizers. While Chatten sings about the band’s grand rise to success, everything here sounds complexly right. However, the best moment of the track is when we reach the bridge and it seems that the band activates the maximum speed in a spaceship and everything sounds even bigger and more distorted. It’s just incredible.
However, in addition to knowing how to build great noisy tracks, they know that we need, from time to time, to take our heads out of the water to breathe. They give us that. The short “Oh Such a Spring” is one of the most memorable moments of the album because we find Chatten alongside just simple beats, atmospheric synthesizers and shy string chords. Here, it seems that he arrived in the winter of his life and now he wants to go back to a better and simpler time. He sings, “Now they’re all gone/That’s life moving on/Some stayed behind to get drunk on the song/And they wish they could go back to spring again.” In addition, as much as “You Said” looks like mourning, none of them are as deep and sadly as “Sunny,” which acts between two faces: the verses are depressing, however, the chorus manages to have a pleasant rhythm thanks to the excellent work of the background vocals. Of course, these tracks have their moments of intensity, however, they are still the moments when you can rest and understand where you are.
However, A Hero’s Death’s ends up carrying a serious problem that eventually affects all songs: the repetitions that, sometimes, stop being imposing ideas and intensifying elements and start to sound repetitive, monotone and tiring. Of course, there are times when these exaggerated lyrics repetitions end up working very well, as in the track “Love Is the Main Thing,” which manages to make the repetitions, together with the progression and the most deconstructed and stripped-down instrumental, create something fluid. However, on tracks like “Televised Mind,” which has a very good atmosphere; “A Hero’s Death,” which has a very good lyrics that looks at life on a slightly more positive side; and even “You Said”; these repetitions end up killing a little bit of the flow of the album itself.
Fortunately, this is not something that really makes it impossible to admire this album and it still continues as something really incredible, immersive and deep. In “Living in America,” Chatten presents more characteristic vocals while painting scenes from a life in London that was in the past. While synthesizers build a dense environment, he sings, “London’s fun, been and done, one for all, all for one/Hit the town, fit the crown, heavy head hanging down.” At the end of the album, with an even stronger essence of Post-Punk, “I Was Not Born” appears a little more restless with simpler rhythmic instincts while the vocalist shows his revolt. He sings, “I was not born/Into this world/To do another man’s bidding.” In the last track, after being overthrown by alienation and longing for better times, “No” shows up more hopeful. Next to just a guitar, Chatten sings on the album’s most positive lyrics, “You can lock yourself away/Just appreciate the gray,” and continues on after, “Don’t you play around with blame/It does nothing for the pain.” He ends the album by saying, “Even though you don’t/You feel, you feel.” Yes, we felt everything and we can’t wait for more.