It’s been a huge four years for Fontaines D.C., from the success of Mercury Prize nominated debut, ‘Dogrel’, to then Grammy nominated sophomore release, ‘A Hero’s Death’, to ‘Skinty Fia’ – which allowed the band to go on to win the BRIT Award for ‘Best International Group’, at this year’s BRIT Awards, with the band showing no sign of stopping, as they are to head out on an extensive tour with Arctic Monkeys in just two months. And for frontman Grian Chatten, it hasn’t stopped there – with his debut solo album, Chaos For The Fly, landing this Friday, via Partisan Records.
Opening with the contemplative acoustic guitar of lead single, ‘The Score’, the intimacy of Chaos For The Fly is immediately present – conveyed through its hushed vocal harmonies that arrive doused in intimacy, as he sings ‘When I make my move to you, you will know’.
‘Fairlies’ is Chaos For The Fly at its liveliest, showing no restraint, as it juggles conflicting moods and jagged sounds with no trouble. It’s catchy and wonderfully poetic, with references to Irish mythology embedded throughout. ‘Fairlies’ also allows the production, a job divided between Chatten and long-term collaborator Dan Carey, to shine through.
Beginning a stand-out three-song run in the album’s core lies ‘Bob’s Casino’, gaining its name from an entertainment centre in Skerries, Dublin, is a fascinating chamber-pop number that incorporates piano, strings and bass whilst allowing the backing vocals of Chatten’s fiancée Georgie Jesson to come to the forefront, the track feels much like looking out over the end of a seaside pier, reflecting on life.
Album highlight ‘All Of The People’, follows, airing a heartbreaking sense of trust in well, just about anybody. Taking a powerful and direct look into the ‘every man for himself’ structure that lives and breathes inside of the music industry, ‘All Of The People’ is Chaos For The Fly and its darkest, juxtaposing heavy piano with its soft, crooner-esque vocal approach.
Arriving with an almost shocking level of honesty, ‘East Coast Bed’ demonstrates Chatten’s skill level as both a lyricist and a creator of music. Layered instrumentation and a catchy chorus intertwine to make for a first listen that cosily wraps the listener up in the track, featuring what may first appear as distant piano chords yet is in fact a singular note of guitar that has been elongated for the song’s chorus.
The final three tracks then return to superb simplicity, with ‘Salt Throwers off a Truck’ displaying Chatten’s initiative for creating earthy-toned lyrics, creating its picturesque storyline with lines such as ‘life is by design until you resign’, and ‘I live pretty close to a view of the stars, but it’s not my nature to look through the bars’.
Closer ‘Season For Pain’ is bittersweet and melancholic, once more providing evidence that Chatten’s lyrical strength is the pillar that holds this album together. Letting its sadness seep out from within, he sombrely sings, ‘If you have nowhere to go / Get used to the rain / I doubt you’ll find what you’re looking for / I doubt the feeling will remain / This is no season for loving / This is the season for pain’, in a track reminiscent of Nirvana.
Showing a new side to Grian Chatten, Chaos For The Fly may not appear as extroverted as his work within Fontaines D.C., but the album arrives as a new outlet for the front-man to explore different aspects of his musicality. The album serves as a musical vacation for Chatten, taking a break from the chaos of the past five years and hinting at the potential for future solo work.