In the midst of St. Patrick’s Day, what more fitting album to review than the latest Dropkick Murphys’ effort, Going Out in Style? The album is a thirteen song record that clocks in at about forty five minutes. For those unfamiliar, the Murphys combine Irish folk and classic with punk/hardcore with the final product being quite eclectic to say the least. Feeling like you should be with friends singing along at a bar is a common feeling with their music.
Going Out in Style is different from previous releases in that it is a concept record. The album is about a fictional character Cornelius Larkin and looks at his life from a third person view (the band) along with a first person (Larkin) perspective looking back on his own life after he is dead. While a concept album could easily be code for mature, watered-down rock, Going Out in Style still feels like a Murphys record while also trying some new things. There are even a few times the album unintentionally sounds a bit like Flogging Molly.
The album starts off with a fiery anthem in Hang ’em High that chants, “No mercy, no quarter they’ll pay for their sins. Now lower the cannon the battle begins…” during the chorus that gives the listener an idea of what they will be in for. This song will be a pleasant tune for Murphy fans as it has the feeling of a song off the Sing Loud, Sing Proud. Another strong track in Going Out in Style follows and features several cameos during one of the verses. Among the cameos are Fat Mike (NOFX), Chris Cheney (the Living End), and comedian Lenny Clarke. The accordion in the Hardest Mile is the first Flogging Molly moment, but once vocalist Al Barr starts singing it is clearly the Murphys. The song is fun, upbeat, and a good song to sing along to.
The song Cruel starts off sounding like a slowed down version of their older song Wild Rover, but proves to be more mellow. Memorial Day is a banjo-driven rocker that is one of the many songs that features a greater presence of said instrument. Deeds Not Words is a song that will instantly feel at home for fans of their back catalog as it a rocking number that sounds like something that would have fit on the Gang’s All Here. Following Deeds, is one of the more interesting songs on the record, Take ’em Down. This song is a stripped down sing along that features some simple lyrics that flow well and an awesome harmonica piece.
The second to last song on the record is a cover song, Peg o’ My Heart that features a guest appearance from Bruce Springsteen. Like a lot of albums in their catlog, the Murphys have covered a lot of songs that to a lot of people would never guess it to be a cover. They have done a lot of Irish traditional songs as well. So, this is a fitting song for them to cover and they really made it their own. While the parts Springsteen sing are quite clear that it is the Boss, he is not really the focal point. To put it simpler, it sounds like Springsteen doing guest vocals, not Springsteen singing a song on a Dropkick Murphys record. The record closes with the Irish Rover and has some heavy Flogging Molly sounds going on. It is a good, energetic song to close the album, but it is quite clear where the influences come from on this song.
Overall, Going Out in Style is a very strong album. If you are a fan of the band already, there is a lot to like. First and foremost, the concept album idea is very cool and adds another element to engage yourself in with the record. If you are not a fan of the band already, you probably are not going to suddenly start liking them. At the very least, if you want some new “Irish” music to party to for St. Patty’s Day, look no further than the Dropkick Murphys. From start to finish, I think it is stronger than the past couple releases, but I do not think it is better than some of their older releases. If you like the band already, there is nothing to turn you away.