Fontaines D.C.
Skinty Fia


3.7
great

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
April 24th, 2022 | 109 replies


Release Date: 04/22/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: the killing of a sacred deer

The title of Fontaines D.C.'s latest album, Skinty Fia, carries two meanings: a colloquial substitute for an Irish curse drummer Tom Coll's aunt often said, and a phrase that roughly translates to 'the damnation of the deer', an allusion to the extinct giant Irish elk which appears on the cover. The title of the album's opening track, "In ár gCroithe go deo", carries two meanings: a phrase which translates to 'in our hearts forever', and a phrase which the Church of England refused to allow on the gravestone of an Irish woman who died in England, out of fear it might be seen as a political slogan.

Grian Chatten's lyrics for Skinty Fia often play with this sort of duality, borne out of the tension he felt as an Irish man moving to England. The majority of the band has now relocated there, and the push-and-pull between their proudly displayed Irishness and the guilt Chatten describes works as something of a thesis line for the album. It's a dichotomy clearly present in "I Love You", a magnum opus of a song which builds from a sweet declaration of love to a white-knuckled rant that explores the darker sides of said emotion. "I love you like a penny loves the pocket of a priest, and I love you 'til the grass around my gravestone is deceased", Chatten spits over an instrumental crescendo which feels like it could spill out of the speakers and engulf you entirely. It may be the band's definitive statement on their home country and the mixed feelings that come from leaving it for England: "I'm now living in a country that is responsible for a lot of the chaos in the country that I'm from, that still kind of looks down on that country. I feel guilty for having left."

It's no surprise that Skinty Fia sounds haunted, paranoid, like an art piece that's been left to weather in the sun and accumulate some decay and damage. The opening track builds itself off the downright haunting titular refrain, a mantra gaining power over six minutes, only for "Big Shot" to completely shift gears into a punishing bass-led murk. One could question the logic behind releasing "Jackie Down the Line" as a first single, but Chatten's eminently singalongable vocal melody and sunny Britpop delivery more than make up for any disconnect between this song and the darkness surrounding it. One thing Skinty Fia could desperately use is a mid-album breather akin to "Roy's Tune" and "Oh Such a Spring", given the sheer density and intensity of the music on display. "The Couple Across the Way" works in a similar barebones realm, spinning a heartbreaking tale over a charity-shop accordion Chatten received for Christmas, but the melody becomes repetitive over nearly four minutes without enough justification or progression. It's not the only time this album veers that way, as the plodding "Bloomsday" and "How Cold Love Is" slow things down to a crawl with little payoff, frustratingly dull songs for a band as well versed in dynamics as this one.

The band's high watermark A Hero's Death merged a breathless pace with dreamy moments of ambience and harmony, feeling at times like a nightmare of drifting love and heartbreak told by that old punk at the back of the pub. Skinty Fia often sacrifices that breakneck energy for a viscous, nocturnal meander, a result of the late-night jam sessions in London which birthed these songs. When it pays off, on the industrial banger of a title track or the gorgeously shoegazey "Roman Holiday", the slower pace is perfect and only makes moments like the climax of "I Love You" feel even more earthmoving. Too often, though, Skinty Fia loses itself in the weeds of atmosphere over substance. You couldn't illustrate it any better than the baffling closer "Nabokov", a wiry art-punk soundscape of spindly guitar created by Conor Curley, over which Chatten lays an absolutely insufferable vocal take which seems to be aiming for Iggy Pop but lands somewhere around caterwauling Liam Gallagher, defusing all the dynamic tension and goodwill generated by the masterpiece immediately preceding it.

Fontaines D.C. have never sounded more at odds with themselves than here, a logical aftershock of the cultural disconnection that comes with leaving one's home for good. Mining that tension for results instead of burying it under the racketing energy of ten more post-punk bangers is a fascinating decision, one that demonstrates the band's ability to embrace the things about them that one might want to bury. Skinty Fia won't tell you much about whether that vein of insecurity that runs below the band's surface level of confidence can fuel good art indefinitely; in its best moments, though, it may make you want to hear the band crack open that ground and let their strangest selves out completely.



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user ratings (126)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2022


46554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

hopefully I did this justice, album is so great but it's so close to being so much better



Chatten's tbt with a lot of juicy details bout it: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/fontaines-dc-skinty-fia-album-interview-grian-chatten-1282546/

Tunaboy45
April 24th 2022


18069 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'LL BE YOUR DOG IN THE CORNAAAAAAAAH

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2022


48906 Comments


album title is an Elden Ring ref nice

DoofDoof
April 24th 2022


11783 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fuck it it's a 5

Tunaboy45
April 24th 2022


18069 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Few more listens and I'll probably be there with you, immense album

anat
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2022


4825 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

kudos on the review, you state your grounds for what you perceive are its shortcomings well. disagree with your thoughts on ‘the couple’ and ‘nabakov’ which are two major standouts for me, and I think they’re definitely in keeping with the nature of the album.



this is their best album 😎

DoofDoof
April 24th 2022


11783 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I listened to some of 'Hero's Death' last night after listening to this in full and yeah, I agree, this is their best

Tunaboy45
April 24th 2022


18069 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Couple is one of the most quietly devastating tracks I've heard in ages, love it

DoofDoof
April 24th 2022


11783 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this was my blurb on AOTY anyway, can't be bothered to put it as a soundoff here and uglify my 5 ratings:



'The progression shown on 'A Hero's Death' continues as now the band are putting even more emphasis on the textures 'n tones ahead of the punchy soundbite vocals and high energy tempos that did much of the heavy lifting on their debut 'Dogrel'; there's never been less traditional 'punk' in their post punk sound.

Once again Joy Division are an influence but even more so are The Cure as their gothic and somewhat dreamy qualities worm their way into the mix. Many of the songs on 'A Hero's Death' were slow burners when compared to the debut and that trend continues here, and this time the 'slow folk number' ('The Couple Across the Way' ) is both more abstract sounding AND more traditional in regards of their Irish heritage.

Is that the dreaded 'maturity' klaxon I hear? Well, yes probably, but it doesn't suppress their intensity and there's still a youthful swagger to much of this material. So all things considered an ideal development?'

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2022


46554 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I really like the lyrics to Couple but it either needed to lose a minute or have a switch up instrumentally



Nabokov is uhhh well. it'd make a sick instrumental

Slex
April 24th 2022


14042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hard disagree about Nabokov lol

Digging: Conjurer (UK) - Pathos

Stakaline
April 24th 2022


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The singles overshadow the other songs, felt the same about the last album. The I love you + Roman holiday + Jackie etc. trio is probably the best thing they've ever done though.

DoofDoof
April 24th 2022


11783 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

listen to the rest a bit more

sarapitolas
April 24th 2022


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

5/5

DoofDoof
April 24th 2022


11783 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

alt?

Gyromania
April 24th 2022


34577 Comments


killing of a sacred dear was good stuff

StickFeit
April 24th 2022


2052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Their best

Ashtiel
April 25th 2022


1372 Comments


never really peeped these guys outside of a single or two from Dogrel which didn't do much for me, but i'm definitely interested after sampling "Jackie Down The Line" and "Roman Holiday" from this record. they feel distinctly...gothic and weighty, i guess.

fogza
Contributing Reviewer
April 25th 2022


5859 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is very good but I'm not convinced this is their best. Still, it doesn't matter, it's all very close, very consistent band

Digging: The Waterboys - This Is the Sea

Pikazilla
April 25th 2022


23176 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Enjoyed bits and pieces of hero's death, but this one - not so much



Opener on here is straight up obnoxious



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