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Starburster: Fontaines DC’s thrillingly sinister new single is a dystopian belter

Grian Chatten and his bandmates also announce a new album, Romance, due for release in August

Fontaines DC


Alarm bells chimed when it was announced, in October 2022, that Fontaines DC were going on tour with Arctic Monkeys. Across three increasingly infectious and cathartic records, the Dublin-Mayo quintet had pushed rock’s boundaries, first by plundering Joyce and Yeats, then by expanding outwards into nightmarish Krautrock and pummelling shoegaze-style indie pop.

Now they were hitting the road with the Sheffield group that specialises in Brylcreem-basted lounge Muzak. It seemed an alarming development, like Lankum teaming up with Mumford & Sons or U2 doing a cheesy Las Vegas residency.

Fears that Fontaines were about to go all stodgy are mercifully countered by their thrillingly sinister new single, Starburster, which received its worldwide debut at 6.30pm on BBC Radio 1, followed by its first Irish play, on RTÉ 2FM, just after 7.30pm. Inspired by a panic attack that Grian Chatten, the band’s Skerries-born singer, experienced at a train station in London, the track has a lurching and messy grandeur.

The band have also announced an accompanying LP, Romance, which is due for release on August 23rd. They say it’s inspired by artists such as the Mercury-nominated Shygirl and Prodigy. You can hear those influences (along with Björk’s Army of Me) in Starburster’s stuttered tempos and the sharp intake of breath that Chatten delivers over and over, as if caught in a whirlpool of rising anxiety, before tumbling into the chorus (“I’m gon’ hit your business if it’s momentary blissness”). Closer to home, traces of Gilla Band, the maximalist indie group known for their widescreen sound and skyscraping production, can be detected. At heart, though, the song feels like an evolution from Fontaines staples such as Nabokov, from their last album, Skinty Fia.


Romance is being billed as the least “Irish” LP the band have yet made. “Each album gets further away from observing that through the lens of Ireland,” Chatten says – which can only be a relief, as Fontaines have always been at their best when they set localism to one side and aim for the stratosphere. That’s what they achieve with Starburster, a dystopian belter that rattles and roars and blasts into high orbit.