Dogrel—the debut album from Irish post-punk quintet Fontaines D.C.—has been out for over three months, and I can’t stop listening. A triumph in concept, lyrics and style, it’s a love letter to their native Dublin, which doubles as the new standard-bearer for post-punk.
Listeners will hear traces of the genre’s masters, such as Wire on “Roy’s Tune,” Joy Division on “The Lotts,” and Sonic Youth on “Television Screens.” But that’s just scratching the surface.
Fontaines D.C. brings to every song a unique blend of empathy, insight and grit. Take the explosive “Too Real,” where lead singer Grian Chatten yells that revolutions can’t happen with “selfish needs aside.” On the softer “Roy’s Tune,” Chatten’s yearning reflects the existential crisis that comes when a company deems him worthless (presumably, he was laid off).
The songs on Dogrel tell stories of characters that include cab drivers (“Sha Sha Sha” and “Boys in the Better Land”) and drug addicts (“The Lotts”). Yet many are allegorical in nature, like with Taylor’s greed on “Chequeless Reckless” or the nameless narrator’s blind ambition on “Big.” On “Television Screens,” Chatten’s voice suggests sympathy for those who risk internal self-destruction for the preservation of public image.
According to the band’s Reddit AMA, “Dogrel” is “an Irish working class [form] of poetry.” It’s a perfect album title. I love the idea of the members hanging in an Irish pub, bonding over James Joyce, writing songs about the everyday people around them. It’s something I think about every time I listen to Dogrel, and I won’t stop any time soon.