Arts

Albums: New music from Fontaines DC, Spiritualized, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets and Bowling For Soup

Fontaines DC – Skinty Fia

FONTAINES DC – SKINTY FIA

NOW living in London, Dublin post-punks Fontaines DC pay tribute to their roots on their third album, Skinty Fia.

Album-opener Ar gCroithe go deo – 'In our hearts forever' – is inspired by Irish woman Margaret Keane, who lived in Coventry, and how the Church of England blocked her family from using Irish on her gravestone when she died.

Skinty Fia could be described as the band's first 'political' record in the sense that their very Irish identity in London is political.

Musically, this is the Fontaines' most freewheeling album yet. Its first single, Jackie Down The Line, is a moody blast of jangling guitars, grunge-y drums and frontman Grian Chatten's malevolent vocals, while I Love You is a warped love letter from abroad drawing on The Cure.

Indeed, conflict is what drives Skinty Fia – and makes it their best release so far.

Rating: 4/5

SPIRITUALIZED – EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL

JASON Pierce has travelled a long, long way since 1997's sprawling double album Ladies And Gentlemen We are Floating In Space: Everything Was Beautiful finds him moving further away from his band's space rock stoner reputation.

Opener Always Together With You is a love song with a catchy chorus that takes it towards proper pop territory, Best Thing You Never Had has a motorik drive, pedal steel guitar adorns country lament Crazy and Let It Bleed's title nods to the Rolling Stones, a clear influence here.

There are just seven tracks, but they are long and there's a lot going on, with Pierce playing 16 different instruments – over 30 musicians and singers are also featured, including string and brass sections and choirs.

While some struggled with the isolation of lockdown, Pierce felt as though he'd been training for it all his life – which helps explain Everything Was Beautiful's confidence and depth.

Rating: 3/5

BOWLING FOR SOUP – POP DRUNK SNOT BREAD

EVER in on the joke, Wichita Falls' favourite/dumbest pop-punkers return with their 11th studio album – a fourth (and third in succession) with a title featuring the word 'Drunk'.

Listeners also get a spoken-word Pee Break and, on opening track Greatest Of All Time, BFS jokingly celebrate their place in the pantheon: "We drank a beer on every continent but one… we only want to make you smile, maybe sing along".

Which is why it is so surprising to hear them gear-shift within three tracks to discussion of mental health and "meds" on Hello Anxiety.

The Best We Can is a mature, largely acoustic and genuinely gorgeous love song to a soulmate – though elsewhere, there are laughs to be had on a fanboy paean to wrestler Alexa Bliss, the deeply silly I Wanna Be Brad Pitt and the ludicrous chorus to Killin' 'Em with Kindness.

Rating: 3/5

PSYCHEDELIC PORN CRUMPETS – NIGHT GNOMES

ON THEIR fifth album, the cult Australian band refine their sound without losing any of their trademark lunacy.

Night Gnomes sounds like four musicians in the midst of a creative tug of war, throwing different sounds at one another to see what sticks. The blink-and-you-miss it harmonica solo that kicks off Lava Lamp Pisco, a pounding monument to Black Sabbath, is a perfect example. It shouldn't work, but it does.

Tracks like Bubblegum Infinity and the title tune are among their most poppy yet, with frontman Jack McEwan delivering lilting vocal melodies over twangs of folksy electric guitar. Bob Holiday, meanwhile, is genuinely anthemic.

But even at their most tuneful, the Crumpets are never more than a few bars away from the kind of rocking guitar solo so beloved by their Aussie psyche countrymen.

Rating: 3/5

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