Their best to date
Neive McCarthy
11:47 14th April 2022

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Skinty Fia hums into tremulous life. With the first few notes of opener ‘In ár gCroíthe go deo’, Fontaines D.C. mark their return. The track steadily roars into action, thrumming with the promise of what is to come—arguably, the band’s best offering yet. 

In a way, Fontaines D.C. have spent their entire career in a butterfly-like cycle: enter cocoon, engage in a deeply transitional period, emerge anew, the product achingly beautiful and deeply layered. Every album invites a reinvention. From the raucous, incendiary Dogrel to the surrealism of follow-up A Hero’s Death, the band practically shapeshift and Skinty Fia is no exception. It’s their most considered and thoughtful album yet but any brazenness that might have lingered before is gone. In its place is a pensive, quiet power.

Their turn of phrase remains their greatest strength, but Skinty Fia has a bolstering musical elasticity to it. It flexes those now well-refined guitar skills to create a crawling, loitering presence (‘Big Shot’, ‘Jackie Down The Line’), their percussive section a relentless figure as it meanders and pulses with intensity. The addition of ‘The Couple Across The Way’, with its sole accordion and melancholic, late-night river walk visuals, show the band’s capacity for far-out features that only they could successfully pull off.

The album ultimately feels like it is catalysing towards penultimate track ‘I Love You’. It’s conflicted in its examination of Irish identity and the incongruous ideas of navigating that as they move abroad. Skinty Fia thematically tackles domesticity, anxiety and the press, and dysfunction but it is the band’s thoughts on identity and their home country that seeps into every breath of the album: ‘I Love You’ feels like the desperate culmination of that. It ascends towards this fraught tension left unresolved, leaving an album whose mark is still keenly felt as it draws to an end.

Skinty Fia arrives 22 April via Partisan Records.

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Photo: Press