“The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble” – a bold declaration from the Dropkick Murphys opens the follow up to 2011’s ‘Going Out In Style’. We’d expect nothing less in terms of confidence and attitude from the band, and – accordingly – it’s trouble the boys shall get from ‘Signed And Sealed In Blood’. Ooh, drama.
Count one: ‘Prisoner’s Song’ screams ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ in the introduction. You can’t rehash such an identifiable introduction and think it will go unnoticed – tut. Having said that, like it’s comparative partner it proves quite a track, quintessentially Murphys in the bounce, the catchiness and in provoking the urge to dance. So here, boys, you are forgiven.
Count two: You sweep without a warning from the acoustic and relaxing wonders of ‘Rose Tattoo’ to the gruelling punk assault of ‘Burn’. Give the listener a chance, will you? Okay, here is where we draw the line – we’re just trying to find trouble to throw at them for the sake of structure, when in reality even the visible duplication of introduction was something that can be overlooked. ‘Count two’ is, in fact, the opposite of a criticism; the Murphys flit between two contrasting styles with ease, each track being on opposite ends of the spectrum, yet enjoyable nonetheless.
Dropping the facade of charging them, let us move on. ‘The Season’s Upon Us’ seems fitting, as we write this on a cold December evening. Diverting from the typical Christmas track packed with cheesy lyrics and abundant love, Ken Casey brings his sarcasm and wit to the occasion: ‘My nephew’s a horrible, wise little twit’ / ‘He once gave me a nice gift wrapped box full of shit’.
Dropkick Murphys are a band who fuse two different styles so sublimely, but prove an ideal band to throw on after a few pints and make the soundtrack to a blinding party. The closing trio of ‘Out Of Our Heads’, ‘Out On The Town’ and ‘End Of The Night’ seem perfect for this idea. The latter sounds a bit like Grease’s ‘Beauty School Drop Out’ in the introduction (strange!), but as it progresses it feels more like the heart warming end-of-night sing song when you’re being forced out of a pub after a good night.
And, you know, this album is akin to a good night out. It’s enjoyable, it makes you want to move, and it shows what the Murphys are all about. It’s not their best record, there is a sense of cutting the fast songs too short or drawing out the slower ones with little to slot in between, but it proves a welcome addition to their discography. Though, here’s a thought, boys – if you’re looking for trouble, try making a crap album* instead of a great one?
*Just kidding. Please do not make a crap album.