Fontaines DC: A Hero’s Death review | Ben Beaumont-Thomas’s album of the week

The Dublin band deliver a difficult second album but powerful second album full of powerful songwriting that stares life in the face

Do bands have a “difficult second album” or a “difficult third album”? The myth seems to vary. You could argue it’s the fourth or fifth you’ve got to worry about in our attention-deficit culture. Maybe they’re all difficult right now: impossible to tour, marketed in disappearing magazines, played to a world deafened by anger.

Whatever way you look at it, the second album from Dublin band Fontaines DC is full of difficulties. This may be surprising. The songs on their 2019 debut Dogrel were populated by characters as vivid as those on the Arctic Monkeys’ debut, and were so good that they reset the bar for mainstream indie-rock bands. The quintet ran up the stairs of a career two at a time, quickly playing pubs, clubs then theatres; London’s vast Alexandra Palace awaits them in 2021. Dogrel was nominated for the Mercury prize, and its songs were improbably added to Radio 1’s poppy playlist. They recorded A Hero’s Death in LA.

Related: Fontaines DC: ‘It’s a lie that rock stars don’t care what people think’

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