When we recently caught up with Fontaines D.C. ahead of the release of their forthcoming album Skinty Fia, Conor Curley promised that his guitar work would be different from anything we had heard from him before. “It’ll be a little more shoegaze-y and a little bit more banger-y,” is how he ultimately surmised his assessment of the new sound.
As it turns out, that near mystic middle-ground where shoegaze drifts into banger territory sounds almost like Trip-Hop. The title track, ‘Skinty Fia’, is both boldly thunderous and oddly ethereal, capturing a sound that is reminiscent of some post-punk reimagining of bands like the Lo Fidelity Allstars and Massive Attack.
This is just as well given the abiding influences on their recent work. “I think that one influence that I can put my finger on the most clearly is Primal Scream, especially the XTRMNTR album,” Curley states. “Maybe from some of my guitar work, I was kind of trying to go down like a shoegaze-y Kevin Shields thing which kind of ties in with that because he produced that album.”
The latest single sees Grian Chatten’s usual front and centre lyricism drift into the obfuscation of a heavily layered sound. This float away from the foreground only adds to the swirling mood of the song. However, the anthem manages to waver around in a geyser of sound without ever sounding swamped or too sludgy—it’s a moody skyline rather than a muddy puddle.
Curley told us, “For this album, the kind of development was – well, especially because we had quite a lot of time to write it – when we were demoing it, we were kind of really trying to build more layers and really work between the bass and the drums to make it as banging as possible for those songs.” With ‘Skinty Fia’, they have certainly delivered on that promise.
Their recent Jameson’s live show also hinted at much the same. After all, when a band approaches their third album, live sets begin to get interesting—certain classics must be culled, and if they’ve gone about their development in the right way, a balancing act of sounds must be alchemically coaxed into sonic coherence. The cocktail that the Dublin lads are now serving is one that has evolved with great measure, but their core mix of muscular spirit and dreamy twists remains the lifeblood of a band at the top of their game and pushing further.
Ultimately, the anthem is too hook-laden and unmistakably alluring to prove polarising, but like a lot of the best tracks that come with the tagline of ‘moody’ there is plenty of time to still sink into the plashy mire of the piece in the years of listening to come. It’s a song to soundtrack a heist and all the adrenalised swagger that comes along with it.