Keeping their unique bagpipe-laced folk punk sound intact, the members of the Dropkick Murphys have taken a big step forward with their style of playing on their eighth and newest album, “Sealed and Signed in Blood.”
Perhaps Massachusetts’ biggest punk rock product to make it to the mainstream, the Dropkick Murphys rose to prominence with the song that has become the unofficial theme of many Boston-based sports teams – “I’m Shipping up to Boston.”
The group’s last album was a much more creative and somber affair focused on storytelling. The band seems to have taken a break from that by writing only upbeat, sing-along songs this time around.
“The Boys Are Back” is the first song on the album, and it foreshadows the party that is about to follow. The bagpipes, played by the highly talented Josh “Scruffy” Wallace, are as strong as ever. Dropkick Murphys really have stayed true to Celtic roots.
“The Season’s Upon Us,” however, is easily the best song on the album. A roaring tribute to the Christmas spirit, it features a very catchy medley of bagpipes with comical lyrics to accompany it. Don’t be surprised if it joins the already enormous list of Christmas must-have songs.
Another highlight on the track list is “Jimmy Collins’ Wake,” featuring a wonderful banjo backdrop by band member Jeff DaRosa. All the vocalists have a ball on this track, and the result is a potpourri of harmonies, not exactly the strength of most punk rock bands.
“End of The Night” is a surprise gem right at the end of the album, and it is a nice way to round up the record. A slower song, it is the biggest deviation from the “typical” Dropkick Murphys style, but shows that the band has more than one weapon in its arsenal. In fact, it is good enough that it makes the listener want more like it in the future. The Dropkick Murphys have been around for over a decade, and now would be a good time for the group to expand its repertoire of sounds if it wants to stay a force in the rapidly changing world of rock music.
It is worth mentioning that “Sealed and Signed in Blood” is still musically complex, but it can be hard to decipher all the noises that are behind the lyrics. Most common laptop speakers, for example, will not give off the most accurate impression of how well the band members synchronize their instruments.
Make sure to check out the album, as it has something for both hardcore fans and those who have yet to experience the band. People who do not take to this album probably will not enjoy Dropkick Murphys’ older work either, but this is the best and most refined the group has ever sounded.
Ayush Kumar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.