Alternative music, whatever that now means, has been missing some true new festival headliner-worthy giants for a fair while – Wolf Alice have nudged into that territory but it’s population is undoubtedly tiny. Enter Fontaines D.C. with their third and as-yet most accomplished record ‘Skinty Fia’.
The Irish lads’ debut ‘Dogrel’ nestled comfortably in the Idles’ post-punk landscape and sophmore record ‘A Hero’s Death’ was a sobered up, thoughtful progression from their toilet venue ready origins. ‘Skinty Fia’ – the title, an old Irish Gaelic curse term translating to ‘the damnation of the deer’ – sees the group become something else again. Moving a fair distance on from their original straight-up punk song structures, the band now have more in common, sonically, with gothic experimentalists The Horrors than Britpop inspired Sports Team.
When word first started to spread about the third Fontaines D.C. LP, the band themselves put out a false rumour that this would be their disco album, but there is some substance to their retracted claim, with a strong groove of an undercurrent flowing strongest in opening tracks ‘In ár gCroíthe go deo’ (‘in our hearts forever’), into title track ‘Skinty Fia’ and onto ‘I Love You’ but to call the whole record dance-worthy would be a bluff. ‘Big Shot’ and ‘How Cold Love Is’ sound more stoned rock than club ready. ‘Jackie Down The Line’ is the undisputable big single of the record and ‘Roman Holiday’ is the closest thing to the Fontaines of before. ‘The Couple Across The Way’ is an accordion lead tribute to a pair of dysfunctional lovers. Closer ‘Nabokov’ is the heaviest rocker, like Happy Mondays if they had only ever taken downers and never tried uppers at all.
Lyrically, ‘Skinty Fia’ is difficult to get under the skin of but there’s a gritty critique of Irish urban reality stitched in there, aware of Gaelic tradition and the course side of city life, along with the damnation of the innocent. A gloomy backdrop to launch a band into a new stratosphere, maybe, but much less commercial and dense albums have sent bands into the big leagues before.
‘Skinty Fia’ was released on 22nd April 2022 and is available to buy in all of the formats over at Fontaines D.C.’s official online store if you want it on your music shelf.
Find the video for title track ‘Skinty Fia’ below: