Dropkick Murphys – [Album]

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

I will openly admit that I arrived "late to the party" when it comes to Dropkick Murphys, and only really took notice of them after they were included in Scorsese's 2006 film, The Departed. Fortunately, they appear to be pulling off a feat that is difficult for most bands: aging gracefully while maintaining their edge. Maybe it's their blue collar work ethic, maybe it's just that they're smart enough to not mess with their sound or maybe it's just the luck of the Irish but, regardless, they've returned with Going Out In Style; an album bearing all the earmarks of their sound. The highlight of the album is easily the title track, a raucous singalong from the point of view of a defiant old man on his death bed. The song, and video for that matter, (featuring guest appearances from Fat Mike, Chris Cheney and Bobby Orr) is easily one of their best and the album is another chapter in a great book which appears to be far from over.

Recent interviews with bassist Ken Casey indicate that Going Out In Style is supposed to tell the life story of Cornelius Larkin; an Irish immigrant and Korean War veteran who has recently passed on. It's not clear whether Larkin is a fictional character and, to be honest, his story isn't exactly clear enough to call Going Out in Style a concept album – but it still holds up well on repeated listens. Not that it really matters, but outside of the title track (which sees Larkin planning his funeral) and "1953" (which tells the story of him finding love), the album at best sounds more like the soundtrack to his life, not its' story.

The vagary of the Larkin plot aside, the album still features classic Irish storytelling with at least a few tracks focused on betrayals. Opener "Hang 'Em High" is a vengeful stomper that sees an angry underdog mob waiting to confront "cowards" in battle and features one of the best lines on the record, "I’d like to savor the moment and kill you twice.” "Deeds Not Words" is equally as vengeful as singer Al Barr states that, "Like a bug I'm gonna crush you and then scrape you off my shoe" after being betrayed by a "liar and a traitor.” "The Hardest Mile" tells the story of fifty-seven immigrant sons from "Donegal, Tyrone & Derry" who labored on the construction of the railway and were murdered for their efforts. These tracks, along with "Climbing A Chair To Bed" and "Take 'Em Down", (the Dropkicks' mandatory pro-labor inclusion), make up the more aggressive side of the album, sounding like a battle cry that will no doubt ignite the front of the stage when each song appears in set lists.

Going Out In Style also has some lighter moments in tracks like "1953,” "Cruel" and "Broken Hymns" all of which deal with love, loyalty and family in some way. These themes benefit from the high profile guest appearance of Bruce Springsteen on "Peg O' My Heart." Given that both Springsteen and the Dropkicks are partial to a good story, it doesn't seem like too long a stretch for Springsteen to be trading verses with Barr and Casey. "Peg O' My Heart" ends up sounding like a revved up and grittier forgotten track from Springsteen's The Seeger Sessions and marks a high point on the album and no doubt in the band's career.

In short, Going Out In Style is more of the same from Dropkick Murphys, and this is exactly what i expect from them. Enjoy.



Going Out In Style is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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