Quick: Think of the Dropkick Murphys. What comes to mind? Green beer, Boston sports, punk kids in plaid flannel. These things are all givens, but when we think of the Dropkick Murphys, most of us also think, inevitably, of a party. And not just any party, but one enormous, sweet, probably illegal shindig taking place, beer flowing onto the floor, ladies dancing on tabletops, gentlemen slumping forward in their seats as the night wears on. A party, in other words, for the ages. You just know that if you knew these guys in real life, you’d be in the big leagues.
Is this accurate? I’ve never partied with the band, so I couldn’t say. But watching the video for their new single, “Going Out In Style”, gives one the idea that this prediction is mighty close to the truth. Dropkick Murphys’ new album of the same name, Going Out In Style, is every bit the raucous, hearty, beer-swinging bash that fans look for from the forefathers of Irish-flavored punk.
The album kicks off with the cheerfully defiant “Hang ‘Em High”, heavy on the bagpipes and the free-spirited seeking of revenge: “I’d like to savor the moment and kill you twice!” It almost doesn’t matter what they’re singing about, though, because you’ll want to throw back a pint and go looking for trouble right from the outset. “Going Out In Style” is a fun, exuberantly morbid reflection on how the narrator wants his family and friends to mark his death, concluding that after a big party, they can do whatever they want: “I could really give a shit/I’m going out in style!”
The band is still careful, though, never to let its party aesthetic put it above challenging or political subject matter: Witness the self-analytical “Memorial Day” and the thoughtful “Cruel”. “Take ‘Em Down” was released early in honor of the workers’ rights protests in Wisconsin, and the band is donating proceeds from special edition t-shirt sales to the cause. The song is a hand-clapping earworm, a working man’s manifesto for the times; no doubt the Wisconsinites felt honored.
Going Out In Style continues on in quality, with nary a bad song in the bunch. “1953” makes for an inspirational love story. “Peg O’ My Heart” is heartfelt and charming, not to mention featuring the much-hyped Springsteen cameo. “Climbing A Chair To Bed” is unbelievably catchy. “Broken Hymns” is sweet and haunting. I could go on and on, but honestly, the album is quality start to finish. There’s nothing innovative here, per se, but what exactly did you want from the Dropkick Murphys? Oh, that’s right: a party. This album is by turns thoughtful, introspective, catchy, and fun. If it doesn’t make you want to clap your buddy on the back and buy the bar a round, go check your pulse.