Review Summary: A small step back but thankfully not a leap.
The Tossers are a six piece celtic punk band hailing from Chicago, Illinois. They formed in the early nineties, before the two more well known celtic punk bands; Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The band didn't garner much attention until signing to Victory Records, a label that the band really doesn't belong on. Despite being on such a ***ty label, it was necessary for the band to gain any attention. "On A Fine Spring Day" seems to be that of a step back for the band but is a welcome addition to their discography none the less.
From the get go one of the most noticeable differences to their other albums is the absence of banjo player Clay Hansen, whose five-string picking lent a distinguishable touch of authenticity and depth to the band's sound, which has always leaned more towards folk than punk. That being said, it is not a huge disadvantage, but it is a rather obvious difference. But what is perhaps the album's biggest shortcoming is that it sounds rather rushed. It's been just a little over a year since the band's previous studio recording Agony, an album breaming with life, melody, and musicianship, and it shows. Some songs here seem to pass by just as pedestrian as a stranger on the street, while others command your attention and stick in your head immediately. This sort of inconsistency is fairly uncharacteristic of a Tossers record, and may throw listeners for a loop on immediate listens.
But not all is bleak. Let's focus on the positives, which thankfully outweigh the negatives. For one thing, this does, all disappointments cast aside, sound like a Tossers album. No curve balls, no out of left field dabbling, just old fashioned folk meets spirited punk rock energy, Pub-ready and lift-your-glass-and-sing-a-long friendly. Like the band's past recordings, there is a satisfying balance of up-tempo tunes, smooth, rolling ballads, and manic floor-stompers, all of which segue into one another surprisingly well. Opening track "Katie at the Races" is reminiscent of classic Tossers, with a memorable hook, and lyrics that tell of a day at the track with a rather eager woman and a beverage or (certainly more than) two. "St. Stephen's Day" is a somber ballad that spins another classic tale of doubt, debauchery and death - all wrapped up in a lovely melody. The two instrumental cuts, "221B/The Sneaky Priest" and "The Humors Of Glendart/Ingenish/On the Fly" (both are traditionals) harken back to the glory days of Celtic folk favorites such as the Chieftains or the Dubliners. These two additions provide a fresh new side to the band's music, offering a refreshing break form the frantic punk-rock leanings that generally seem to characterize them. "A Fine Lass" is another stand out track, and could potentially be radio single material.
So while the album is something of a disappointment, it's still a welcome addition to the Tossers' catalog, and shows signs of good things for the band to come on future albums. Here's hoping they find a steadier footing on their next effort, and hey, maybe the re-inclusion of that unmistakeable banjo pickin'!