2017 has been kicked off the right way, with some fantastic music from one of my favourite bands around, Dropkick Murphys. After hearing Blood, a cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone and Paying My Way I was convinced that 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory was going to be oh so sublime.
Dropkick Murphys have never really changed their formula but when the blend of traditional/folk and punk rarely misses the mark, there is frankly no need to innervate. Opening with The Lonesome Boatman a song driven by chants, chordy guitars and led by a fantastic pipe melody, you’ll get the feel of the album right away. It’s the Murphys as we know and love ’em. This isn’t more apparent than in Rebels With A Cause. It has the sound of an old school punk anthem. Its palm muted guitar riff and bouncy drumming are emblazoned with that shout along aspect that Dropkick Murphys mastered long ago. The single Blood is still one of the highlights for me, I just can’t get that chorus out of my head, damn it’s just so easy to get caught up in it!
Sandlot lets the listener know that the band has been at it a long time now. A mature look back at childhood set to a simple melodic guitar. Yes the music is simple but it is effective. So effective in fact you’ll find yourself getting lost without even knowing it. Songs like First Class Loser, I Had A Hat and Kicked To The Curb carry the punk vibes but also add a hint of classic Springsteen. The cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone is a treat to behold. With the addition of bagpipes the bands has truly turn the song into their own. I don’t know how they do it but each song on the album is an anthem in its own right. Powerful, bold and catchy.
Now there is a lacking of punk riddled songs with the majority of the album leaning closer to their Irish roots, which is either a good or bad thing depending on your outlook. Personally I like this lean as the songs, vocals and lyrics have a more traditional story telling feel to them. 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is a little darker than some of their previous material, but it still carries an upbeat feel with the use of quick tempos and gang vocals. Dropkick Murphys have seen a lot change since their last album in 2013 and 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory reflects this. 4-15-13 pays homage to the Boston Bombing victims and has so much heart and warmth to it. It isn’t full of joy or sorrow but it is filled with hope. A gloomy morning with the glimmer of sunshine through the clouds is the best way to describe its tone.
It is going to take a lot to keep 2017 on such a musical high, with this impressive offering so soon in the year. Dropkick Murphys have given it their all and then some with yet another passion filled album. 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is off the charts earning it a 9/10. There is heart and soul in this release and it shows.