Label: Partisan Records
Released: 30th June 2023
With Fontaines D.C.’s prolific output, it’s easy to forget their debut album only came out five years ago. Since then, they’ve headlined Alexandra Palace, secured a Number 1 album and been nominated for a slew of awards.
Now lead singer Grian Chatten has stepped out to release his first solo album – is it his Robbie Williams moment? Not quite, Fontaines are still going strong and ‘Chaos for the Fly’ is far from a ‘Skinty Fia’ knock-off.
‘Fairlies’ has snatches of piano that evoke Bowie at his most theatrical, while the brass on ‘Bob’s Casino’ lends an image of depressing and faded seaside glamour, which complements the lyrics perfectly. Elsewhere there’s more evidence of experimentation – traditional Irish music bleeds through on ‘Salt Throwers off a Truck’, and synths are peppered throughout the album.
Despite the eclecticism, missteps are few and far between, with only the nearly five-minute-long ‘East Coast Bed’ outstaying its welcome. That being said, fans hoping for high-energy tracks with singalong choruses will be going away disappointed. This album is (as you might expect) a lyrically focused project, seeing Grian introspectively meandering through the nine songs on offer.
Side projects are risky and often fall short of their promises. Ultimately to succeed, they have to be able to stand on their own two feet and step out of the band’s shadow. ‘Chaos for the Fly’ isn’t consistently brilliant, but it’s a different beast to anything Fontaines have released, and as a vehicle to showcase Grian’s lyricism and storytelling abilities, it goes above and beyond any reasonable expectations. On the sliding scale of solo outings, it’s nearer Alex Turner doing the ‘Submarine’ soundtrack than Lisa Scott-Lee’s ‘Electric’.