New Music Review: Dropkick Murphys; ‘Going Out In Style’ (VIDEO)
Death comes with Guinness in hand on Going Out In Style, the Dropkick Murphys’ rowdy concept album about a local boy’s Irish wake and the life that preceded it. The departed (heh), a fictional bloke named Cornelius Larkin, provides a new outlet for the Murphys’ traditional blue-collar Celt rock. Instead of just offering go-get-em barnburners and blue-collar platitudes, the Boston boys weave them into a story, tracing Larkin’s life from immigration to marriage to the casket.
It’s a fun ride, but not without its hitches. The Celtic-flavored Murphys can be incredibly melodic if they want to be, but for 10 of the record’s 13 tracks, the band cranks up its sound to the brink of punishment. And despite their songwriting skills, which have grown leaps and bounds since their debut in 1999 (and even more since their mainstream blow-up in 2006), the band still hasn’t strayed far enough beyond its basic themes and style to do something truly adventurous.
But despite the weak points, it’s hard to turn down such a shindig. Throughout the record songs are sung, fingers flipped both at enemies (“Take ‘Em Down”) and death itself (“Going Out In Style”), and lovers toasted (the boozy “1953”), all to the tune of soaring bagpipes and wailing guitars. Even the dead guy gets a few Eff You’s in for the road: “Burn me to a rotten crisp and toss me in a pile/I could really give a shit, I’m going out in style,” singers Al Barr and Kevin Casey roar on “Going Out In Style” as the band pounds around them. And Bruce Springsteen, no stranger to musical morbidity, lends his growl to the raucous love song “Peg O’ My Heart,” trading verses with Casey like two grizzled vets swapping stories over a pint.
The music is also perfectly layered this time out, nobody is overshadowed and everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. Even that showstopping Bruce cameo isn’t given special attention; he blends in with the band just the same as its regular singers do, so his presence doesn’t overshadow the song itself.
It’s some seriously good fun, if a bit repetitive down the stretch. But just when the gimmick starts to get old, the band concludes their wake in the true Celtic fashion: with a sloshed sing-along to the traditional “The Irish Rover” that ends in whooping and hollering amidst the tin whistles and clinking glasses. Sounds about right. Now go in peace.
LISTEN: Dropkick Murphys feat. Bruce Springsteen: “Peg O’ My Heart”
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