By Alli Dempsey | August 11th 2023
Irish rockers Fontaines D.C. are on top of the world. Since releasing their third full-length album, Skinty Fia, in April of 2022, embarking on a successful tour, and securing a supporting act spot for the Arctic Monkeys North American leg this fall, they have quickly skyrocketed up the charts, as well as into the hearts of many adoring fans across nations.
There are several reasons why fans are finding solace and connection in the post-punk group’s music, but one of Fontaines’ many charms is frontman Grian Chatten’s poetic lyrics, reading like handwritten love letters to his home country and thoughtful tales about the intricacies of existence.
“All of the People,” the final of four singles from Chatten’s debut solo record Chaos for the Fly, sees Chatten diving deeper into his insecurities — disguised by his pessimistic outlook on the shallow individuals that surround him. Using his skills of layered lyricism, he weaves together the pieces of a complicated internal battle of low self-esteem, letting it cloud his worldview as he looks down upon humanity from the skies above.
Chaos for the Fly, released on June 30, contains nine, stripped-down tracks that unveils Chatten’s softer side — as opposed to his more outright, exultant persona that he takes on in Fontaines. “All of the People” is the slow burn of the album, driven by somber piano chords and accompanied by gentle stringwork to compliment Chatten’s hushed vocals — a stark contrast to the strained intensity his voice possesses in his other project.
Lyrically, Chatten isolates himself from what he considers to be a shallow society. He paints an accurate picture of what it feels like to be surrounded by surface-level people and ideologies, feeling like no one knows the real versions of each other anymore. He is straightforward, refusing to be “fake nice” or beat around the bush, stating “You think that you love me /
But you don't / You think that you know me / Yeah well you just don't.”
Nowadays, social media has the power to provide a rare and intimate look into the lives of strangers, allowing us to feel like we know people much more than we actually do. Chatten challenges these notions by questioning if these virtual onlookers, possibly elevated due to his rising fame, really know the details of his real life. “Did you know I'm into your brother? /
Did you know that I hated your show? / Tell me who exactly do you think you know?” he asks. Are the people Chatten is targeting friends with the real him, or the watered-down, curated version of him?
Contrary to what the ballad-like sound of the track suggests, “All of the People” is emotionally-charged and angry, Chatten’s smooth way with words allowing him to express his frustrations in a poetic way that rings a familiar and relatable bell with his audience. Fontaines’ three releases have showcased Chatten as one of the best new songwriters of this generation of rock, but his lyricism and prose on his recent effort has solidified it.