Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory
Written by: PP on 09/03/2017 22:47:48
After seven consecutive releases of excellent Celtic punk albums in a row, Dropkick Murphys fell short on "Signed And Sealed In Blood" four years ago. While the formula stayed the same - big working class folk-punk tunes heavily drenched in gang shouts and punk attitude alongside accordion, banjo, flute and mandolin melodies - the overall result felt rather...uninspired. With no instant classics and few hits to write home about, the record may have been decent but lacked the flair that made "The Meanest Of Times" a modern classic and "Going Out In Style" an excellent party album. Unfortunately for long-time fans of the band, the same pattern continues on their ninth album "11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory", a disappointing release that fails to refresh the band's stale songwriting in a meaningful manner.
A lengthy Celtic intro kicks off the album on a downbeat mood, lacking the usual joyous and cheerful energy that the boys usually exhibit. Almost three minutes of Celtic flutes, ambient atmospherics, and Viking style ooh-ooh-ooh sing-alongs later, "Rebels With A Cause" restores your faith with a signature style Dropkick Murphys track. It's upbeat, catchy, and benefits from alternating vocal lines between Al Barr and Ken Casey, and the occasional acoustic guitar contrast to the rowdy mood that's as energetic as it is a fun listen. Likewise, "Sandlot" is a banger of a track characterized by a nostalgic sing-along melody about times before drinking age and the trouble they used to get back then. Bagpipes, flutes here make the track great, but it's surpassed by the danceable accordions and cheerful mandolins on the rowdy rocker "I Had A Hat".
So it's not like the album doesn't have good tracks. It's just that many of them are barely decent and worse, have a Dropkick Murphys on autopilot vibe attached to them. They're certainly a far cry from the likes of "The State Of Massachusetts", "God Willing", "Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced" and so on. There's simply nothing new, which is fine in principle, as long as the songs themselves are great, but something's missing. Perhaps the passion is dwindling down and career musicianship is finally dawning on the guys? If that's the case, Dropkick Murphys will continue to play the bigger clubs thanks to the strength of their discography, but they will become increasingly irrelevant. To avoid such a jam, they need to change course immediately starting from the next album onward, because "11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory" is arguably their weakest album to date. Not bad, just way too predictable and occasionally boring.
Download: Rebels With A Cause, Sandlot, I Had A Hat
For the fans of: Flatfoot 56, Street Dogs, The Tossers, The Rumjacks, The Real McKenzies
Release date 06.01.2017
Born & Bred Records