Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys once said: “There is always that one band that comes along when you are 14 or 15-years-old that manages to hit you in just the right way and changes your whole perception on things.” Whether you go on to be one of the best bands of your generation or not, that notion of having the curtains parted to bohemia by a seminal album certainly rings true.
Guitar music has apparently died and been saved more times this century than a cat with a cliff-hanger churning Netflix series. Fontaines D.C.’s Dogrel was the latest Uma Therman-esque shot to the heart. And much like Pulp Fiction, it was an album that hit the industry like a cold splash of water and wiped the Etch-a-Sketch clean.
Frontman Grian Chatten may well be one of, if not the best lyricists to emerge in recent times, and the thunderous instrumentation delivers on all fronts, but the true triumph of Dogrel is its singular daring to be youthful. There is no hint that the record is there to appease anyone at all. Like all the best art, it remains entirely uncompromising without ever being cynical. Another band who harnessed this same raucous passion in youth’s ungrateful hands was none other than The Strokes.
You pluck Is This It out from the shelf, marvel briefly at the classy derriere, release the vinyl from a sheath more well-thumbed than Sir David Attenborough’s passport, you lay the record down carefully like an infant in a cot, drop the needle on the groove, listen to the hissing precession imbued by a thousand overplays to the point that it now sounds like a welcome visitors car pulling onto a gravel driveway, and there it is…you hear the fizzing out guitar followed by the defibrillation of Fabrizio Moretti’s daringly simple drumbeat and your youth washes back over you in a wave of nostalgia whether you’re 96 or still 16. And you can read more on that and the people it inspired here.
However, one act whose comment escaped us is Fontaines D.C. In a Reddit Q&A, the Irish group doled out the following advice for anyone looking to start a band: “In terms of advice I’d say form a band with people you want to spend more time with. And listen to The Strokes a lot. that’s all we ever did really.”
While Fontaines D.C. are notably more literary than their New York musical heroes, at least in terms of songwriting style, there is undoubtedly an underscoring of that same unabashed atmosphere to their work. And this certainly shares a kinship with the second act that encouraged the Irish lads to start a group: The Libertines. As part of the same Q&A, they answered a question about their biggest inspirations by simply stating: “The Strokes and The Libertines are the reason we started the band.”
While the seminal forces of The Libertines and The Strokes certainly had a golden impact on music, they both found themselves somewhat derailed soon after their sophomore albums. With Fontaines D.C.’s third album wrapped up and on the way soon, let’s hope they can sustain their golden spree a little longer. If the performance I was lucky enough to witness on Sunday is anything to go by, they should be pulling off the alchemical artistic feat of changing people’s perception of things for a little while longer.