Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style (Music Review)

Going Out In Style cover

Dropkick Murphys - Going Out In Style

Don’t let the Dropkick Murphys fool you. Though they named their latest album Going Out In Style, they have no plan to disband anytime soon. They’re an institution now, so much so that their Wikipedia page needs a chart to record the members who have come and gone over the years, and they know exactly how to please their fans with every new album. (It helps that they wait a few years between each release, so there’s never a glut of Murphys music.)

That’s not to say that the Dropkick Murphys sound exactly the same from year to year. Interestingly, Going Out In Style is possibly the Irish punk band’s hardest album yet, but the standard punk signifiers are almost missing. Bagpipes and flutes, which used to appear sporadically for flavor, are now as prominent as the guitars, and a new listener could easily interpret this as an especially raucous Irish band.

Despite this change, the band’s strength is still in how naturally they connect Irish and punk culture. The wild party in Going Out In Style’s title track is a punker’s dream, but the specifics draw from hard-drinking Irish culture. “Sunday Hardcore Matinee” is about going to concerts as a kid, but describes punk shows as a character-building experience that their community-oriented fanbase will embrace. And of course, the Murphys’ rocking renditions of traditional songs (here “Peg of My Heart” and “The Irish Rover”) still sound like they should have been the definitive versions of the songs all along.

Even more than the Irish elements, the thing that really sets the Dropkick Murphys apart from other punk bands is their perspective as mature adults. It’s a traditionally youthful genre, but they manage to sound perfectly natural looking back at a hard-fought life (“Cruel”) or giving life lessons to those around them (“Deeds Not Words”). This element features even more strongly than normal here, with Going Out In Style being billed as a tribute to a (fictional) 78-year-old veteran and longshoreman named Connie Larkin.

In short, the Dropkick Murphys have once again released one of the best legitimate punk albums of the year, while also writing songs that will appeal to a lot of people who would normally even never give punk music a chance.

Grade: A-

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