At the tail end of high school, I got into quite the punk phase. I listened to a lot of stuff, Bad Religion, NOFX, Minor Threat, but I also listened to sillier stuff and more folk punk stuff like Flogging Molly and of course, Dropkick Murphys. They’ve been a band I’ve stuck with ever since, I’m always listening to their stuff in my car and rocking out to badass bagpipes. And now they have a new album out, 11 Short Stories of Pain and Glory and I’m about to take a first listen to it.
So here’s my review of the album, we’ll do it track by track.
01. The Lonesome Boatman
The tin whistle kicking the album off, I always love that instrument. I’m not sure which instrument I like the most in Dropkick songs, the tin whistle, the bagpipes or the accordion, they’re all used so well. This is just an instrumental track with a bit of chanting, likely a song you’d hear kicking off a concert to get people all jazzed up. It’s a nice little start.
02. Rebels with a Cause
Your pretty standard almost surf-rock sounding tune, the vocals are on point and the tune keeps at a happy beat. I could’ve really done without the claps in the song, they kept breaking me out of the track, they felt like they didn’t belong.
Enter the bagpipes and a much slower beat in this tune. The progression and melody of this tune remind me a lot of Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire”. I can handle slower Dropkick songs, but usually they’re more acoustic and somber, this one honestly feels way too slow and with the guitars and screaming, it just doesn’t fit with my ears.
Another song that sounds suspiciously like another classic track, except I sat here for a while trying to name the song, but it’s not one I think I’ve ever known the name to it. Ah well. The song again is rather slow, not as slow as Blood, but still slower than I’d expect from a Dropkick song. It also feels weird listening to a song by this band that doesn’t feel like it has their unique sound added to it.
05. First Class Loser
And as I say that, we’re back with the mandolins and tin whistles. This song’s a little better, an easy listen and definitely a song that could be played at a show in between the more heavy and fast songs the band is known for.
06. Paying My Way
The piano in this song sounds really weird to me, I wonder what kind of piano this is? Another very slow track and this one out of them all feels the weirdest on a Dropkick Murphys album. There’s a little harmonica solo to try and save the song, but I’m already looking towards the end by this point.
07. I Had a Hat
There we go! A fast beat! Now this sounds like the Dropkick of old. It very much carries the old sea shanty, pub fare kind of songs that we’re used to hearing with the band when they’re at their best.
08. Kicked to the Curb
This is another odd choice of a track from the band. It feels a lot like your standard 70s or 80s Top 40 rock single, just with Dropkick vocals rather than what you’d normally expect from this kind of music. There feels like this weird love for surf music suddenly in this album, it’s not sitting all that well with me.
09. You’ll Never Walk Alone
And we’re back to a more normal Dropkick song. A slower, almost sit down and story-telling sort of track with bagpipes accentuating the melody. Though I will admit the chorus progression of the vocals in this song sound a little off to me, not in tone but in the position of the syllables, they don’t make as much sense as a time progression to me.
Sweet Jesus, I thought I was about to scream and cry because I was being forced to listen to the Titanic tin whistle part from Celine Dion‘s “My Heart Will Go On”, thankfully it was a false alarm. A very somber sounding track and the vocals are at their best here. These are the kinds of tracks I like at the tail end of Dropkick albums.
11. Until the Next Time
Yep and we’re finishing off with other 70s/80s sounding track. It has a bit of a Bowie sound to me, but I could be wrong. It’s not a bad song, but once again it just feels weird as a Dropkick song, it’s not what I’m used to hearing and if it were someone else, I might’ve been more okay with it.
As a Dropkick Murphys album, this record is littered with tracks that stray a little too far off their signature sound and tracks that are just way too slow for the band’s usual partying and frantic pace. There’s a couple good tracks here in The Lonesome Boatman, First Class Loser and I Had a Hat, but there’s a lot of tracks that just don’t sit well with me and really bring this album down. I’m honestly really disappointed in this album and it’s making me wonder if the band has lost its edge and/or is really starting to slow down as they continue to age.
If you’ve got Spotify or something like that, you can justify the listen, but I can’t imagine paying full price for this record, it’s not that good.