If you haven’t listened to Fontaines D.C. before, then you need to change that right now.
With two critically acclaimed albums already under their belts, having boasted nominations for Grammys, Brits and the 2019 Mercury Prize, as well as having a reputation as a stellar live band, the Dubliners have firmly established themselves as one of the most exciting and innovative bands of recent years. Their newest single, taken from their upcoming album Skinty Fia, is arguably one of their best yet.
First off, do not be fooled by the song’s title; one might expect ‘I Love You’ to be some sort of classically romantic tune, but this is not the case. Rather the words are a love letter to Fontaines’ native country Ireland, with the band dubbing the tune as their first “overtly political” song. The lyrics convey feelings of “cultural pride”, while equally expressing “swirling anger” at the current political climate. Frontman Grian Chatten described the track as “standing in the centre of our beloved home country as a multitude of things are brought to tragic ends in an apocalyptic state of affairs”.
The initial part of the track, where Chatten’s heartfelt vocals are accompanied by a brooding bassline and a haunting guitar riff (the combination of which is a little Cranberries-esque) creates a dark, but somewhat calming ambiance; the second half completely changes this, as the vocal delivery switches to being intense and passionately frantic, almost resembling a piece of spoken-word poetry. This, paired with the gradual build-up of the drums, make it feel as if the song is expanding and surrounding the listener. It truly submerses you in the world of emotions behind the lyrics, with Chatten professing his deep love for his country while simultaneously critiquing its politics and history (“and I loved you like a penny loves the pocket of a priest / and I’ll love you ’till the grass around my gravestone is deceased”).
The result is powerful, and nothing short of outstanding; I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anything quite like it. Fontaines D.C. never slack on their lyrical quality, but ‘I Love You’ is a stand-out track even within the group’s impressive back catalogue.
For me, Fontaines’ songs can be quite overwhelming on the first listen; there’s a lot to wrap your head around in one go. But after a couple of plays, everything sets into place, and I feel able to truly appreciate the tune, which, in the case of ‘I Love You’, is an absolute piece of art.
Fontaines D.C.’s third album, Skinty Fia, will be released on 22 April 2022 via Partisan Records.
Words by Siobhán Lally
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