Graham Reid | | 1 min read
At one level this is another installment of raucous, shot-slamming, singalong rowdiness from Boston's Celtic-punk outfit . . . and in that it is not only effective and enjoyable. It certainly makes you want the bartender to splash another shot of whisky into your jar before you throw an arm around the shoulder of mate and bellow "burn me to a rotten crisp and toast me for a while, I could really give a shit, I'm goin' out in style".
But there is something else going on here behind the bellowing, flat-tack beats and stirring bagpipes. There'd have to be, otherwise we might guess Bruce Springsteen wouldn't have turned for Peg O My Heart.
This is loosely a concept album in that it follows the life of an imaginary character Cornelius Larkin who leaves the Emerald Isle for a life in the promised land of America. Cornelius -- apparently a composite character made up of forefathers of various DKMurphys -- looks back on significant moments and Irish martyrdom which have shaped his life and memories.
But cleverly these song are not so specific as to exclude an audience and mostly keep lyrics in the realm of the general: life is hard, "they were murdered for their troubles", dreams are the one thing they can't take away, you have to believe, "are you too afraid of living to make a man's mistake" and so on.
And all these stirring, challenging sentiments are set to guitar-driven jig-rock (they aren't called the AC/DC of Celtic punk for nothing) and heart-stirring pipes.
They do allow the occasional breather -- Broken Hymns around the mid-point, until it gets to the rousing chorus "now the battle hyms are playing, reports of shots not far away" -- but mostly this is a shout in the face of hardship, about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and looking your enemies in the eye and being ready to "take the bastards down".
Lyrically this is not just a clever album but can also be as economic as it is air-punching: "Fifteen kids in a pick-up truck, your Chucks, your case of beer, your Luckys, jeans rolled up, your one way out of here . . ." on Sunday Hardcore Matinee.
There is also love here -- 1953, which recalls the most romantic songs of Shane MacGowan -- and the traditional Peg O' My Heart gets a typically barroom makeover.
And it all ends on raucous, shot-slamming, singalong rowdiness on the old Irish Rover.
Celtic-punk is perhaps best heard in an Irish pub where you are slamming shots while waiting for your Guinness to settle, but here the Dropkick Murphys have made loose concept album which rewards home-time attention.
Although I doubt you'd listen to this sitting down.
Like the sound of this? Then try this.