On April 22, 2022, the Irish band Fontaines DC released their third studio album “Skinty Fia.” What makes this album different from their first two is that it is blatantly political. The messages of racism and destruction from our pasts are expressed clearly. Yet if you listen closely enough, ”Skinty Fia” describes the frustration and pain that comes from love. Whether that be love of your city, your family or your lover, Fontaines DC reminds us that there is beauty behind the things that cause us so much pain. There is something unique and mystical about the band’s sound that captures and correlates this feeling of pain and doom effortlessly.
Fontaines DC formed in 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. The band met in college while studying poetry. Lead singer Grian Chatten’s voice is incredibly distinctive and his stage presence resembled that of Ian Curtis of Joy Division. His voice connects perfectly with Connor Curely and Carlos O’Connell accompanying him with their guitars. To bring the sound altogether is the driving bass and drums played by Conor Deegan III and Tom Coll. It is a combination of musicians that is rare to come by. Each performer matches perfectly with one another, allowing them to create this forceful sound that you can feel in your chest.
“Skinty Fia,”opens with “In Ár gCroíthe Go Deo.” The beautiful harmonizing of the band slowly is overshadowed by the chaotic sound that creeps its way into your ears. It is one of the greatest openers to an album. It is subtle and intriguing. As any opener should do, it prepares the listener for the album. It should be what grabs your attention and keeps the listeners interested, and it does just that. It sets the consistent mood for the album. Other than one song in the whole album, all the music feels related to one another.
“Jackie Down The Line” was the first single released from the album. Its message is the inevitability of identity. Chatten is trying to decipher the meaning of Irishness and the diaspora that comes with it. “Jackeen” is a term used to describe people from Dublin. It comes from the Union Jack and its connection with England, the loss of Irishness, the loss of identity.
The song “Skinty Fia,” which translates to “the damnation of the deer,” is influenced by drugs and alcohol, more specifically the paranoia that comes from it. Again, the theme of destruction rises again. It is a tone-droning, mind-altering song that gives a sense of paranoia. It is unclear what the paranoia is from; that’s the beauty behind it. The weird part about it is that the song is listed after a shift in tone on the album.
The album was originally supposed to be half post-punk and half traditional Irish music but another song slipped through the cracks and made it onto the album. “A Couple Across the Way” is a beautiful ballad that uses a cello, a violin and Chatten on the accordion.
“The story behind the song itself is that Grian opened one of his windows and could hear his older neighbors arguing a lot. He was living with his fiancée, and he was wondering about the difference between old love and young love, hopes and fears,” said an anonymous contributor on Genius.
The melancholic song occurs in the middle of the album. It signifies a transition to the second part of the album, which is very much the same as the first part; however, it brings a sense of sorrow that lingers for the rest of the album. For instance, “I Love You” is a love letter to Ireland. It expresses deep disappointment towards the political climate of the country and Dublin. It begins sad and soft, but the song builds up and climaxes to Chatten sing-shouting political poetry.
The Fontaines DC have brought back a genre of music that was gone from the limelight for a while. With intriguing driving songs, “Skinty Fia” educates the listeners about the troubled country and reminds us of our own internal doom that haunts who we are. It is something we didn’t know we needed yet can grow stronger from.
The album can be found on all streaming platforms.