Fontaines D.C. – ‘Sold For Parts’ review: poetic portrait of a band on the brink of something big

"Bleed who you are all the time… don’t hold back," says frontman Grian Chatten in this powerful, enlightening rock doc

The rise of Fontaines D.C. over the past 18 months has been a joyous whirlwind. Starting 2019 as a small cog in Dublin’s underground scene, the Irish troubadours dropped their debut album ‘Dogrel’ in April. Thanks to that record, they quickly became one of the most exciting prospects in indie. Influenced by poetry and Irish history and into anthemic, chest-pumping punk, the album immediately felt like a classic, heralding the arrival of a band that could easily define the next decade of guitar music.

Fittingly, the band are now the subject of a new documentary, Sold For Parts, which tracks the writing and recording of ‘Dogrel’. Featuring interviews with the band and instrumental figures in the team around them – including ‘Dogrel’ producer and Speedy Wunderground head honcho Dan Carey – the film is an intimate portrait of a band on the cusp of unleashing their life’s work. We also see them readying themselves for the unstoppable rise that would follow, with live footage interspersed with intimate peeks into the creation of their songs, accurately showcasing the pure feeling that flows through every note of their debut.

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“I don’t wanna feel comfortable,” frontman Grian Chatten says of his approach to making music, hammering home the importance of taking risks and challenging yourself.

Alongside footage of the recording of ‘Dogrel’, producer Dan Carey explains the ins and outs of the recording process, revealing that the album was recorded live, in almost one-take. If the band messed up a part a few songs in, they’d go back to the start of the first song and do it all again. The tension and gritted teeth that resulted from so many mistakes, then, meant that when the perfect take was finally achieved, there was an unstoppable energy that bursted out in pure catharsis. Learning this and going back to listen to ‘Dogrel’ again makes the whole thing sound even tighter and feistier.

Fontaines DC Glastonbury 2019
Fontaines DC at Glastonbury 2019. Credit: NME/Carolina Faruolo

Where normally such an in-depth picking apart of a process would take away from the heart of a film like this, this just serves to bring the tension and edge-of-your-seat feeling that defines ‘Dogrel’ into greater focus.

As recounted in every Fontaines D.C. interview going, poetry is an integral part of the band’s makeup. It’s what properly drew them together in the first place. This bursts out beautifully when Grian recites a verse from single ‘Too Real’ shortly after it was written. It now exists in a fist-pumping punk song version, but sounds just as affecting as a bleak but biting poem.

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Later, bassist Conor Deegan discusses his own personal philosophy towards the band, concluding that their approach is one of “thinking less and feeling more”. This accurately sums up the entire ethos of Fontaines D.C. and it’s a mantra the band have stuck to unflinchingly and plan take into their upcoming second album. Ever the poet, Grian sums it up best: “Bleed who you are all the time… don’t hold back.”

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