With a sound that combines a band like The Pogues in Irish flair, with the skate Punk sound of NOFX, Dropkick Murphys kick off 2017 right with a full on assault to start the New Year. On the bands 9th album, it becomes hard to change their sound, but when it’s to try and cause as much of a Boston party as can possibly be, there’s little more that needs to be said.
Kicking off with The Lonesome Boatman, the chants of all the members of the band are heard right away. This fun nature is carried on by the first song with lyrics of Rebels With A Cause leading to a sense of family nature within the song, the accordion of Tim Brennan also adds to the good fashioned nature of the song, and allows it to have the Irish flair the band’s fans are accustomed to.
Sandlot also features the first sounds of acoustic guitar from Jeff DaRosa combined to the synchronised clapping from the rest of the band members. The song feels like it’s reminiscent of the bands past especially with the line “we had it all when we were young” this is a song that feels like a real celebration of the family nature on the album.
The key theme of family and trying to have a good time is not without good reason however, as with any good story the setbacks for the individual members become obvious. Take their cover of Jerry And The Pacemakers’ hit You Will Never Walk Alone for instance and their reasoning for choosing to release the track as a single. Ken Casey had lost his cousin and Al Barr lost his brother to an opiate overdose which he dedicates the song to. This is something that he states in a YouTube video as being a key factor in his life with himself saying he’s been to thirty wakes in two years.
The way the two lead singers of Al Barr and Ken Casey bounce off each other on First Class Loser and join together on the chorus of Paying My Way creates a great theme on the album. This is something that might seem minor for most bands but due to Dropkick’s nature of creating a good natured atmosphere across their music making the love of the band to their craft stand out amazingly. On the latter track the sound of the Harmonica solo from Jeff DaRosa adds an extra layer of creativity that most Punk bands ignore.
Whilst the record has a good sound to it, it doesn’t mean that the band haven’t got serious intentions in mind. The album is inspired by the bands work with the Claddagh Fund which helps people with addiction, Rebels With A Cause is about kids who have been left as hopeless by the system and 4-15-13 (which has to be the most sombre part on the album) marks the date of the Boston Marathon Bombing. What this shows most of all however, is that no matter what life might throw at us, we can all celebrate the good in life, and after the time 2016 has given to most people, a record like this proves there’s still hope.