Dropkick Murphys
Going Out In Style


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
February 23rd, 2011 | 62 replies | 17,940 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Only part of the title may be accurate, but it's the part you'd want.

Given that it’s so sizeable and dedicated, it really didn’t come as much of a surprise when the title of 'Going Out In Style' caused such concern among the Dropkick Murphys following. Having amassed during a fifteen year spell of exhilarating releases and raucous live shows, the fans were understandably aghast at the sheer prospect of the band calling it quits when arguably at the peak of it’s powers. Sure, previous record 'The Meanest Of Times' represented a slight misstep following years of constant improvement culminating in modern punk classics 'Blackout' and 'The Warrior’s Code,' but it was still a rock solid effort from a band you felt had plenty to left to give to the Celtic punk scene they are the undisputed front runners of. As further details emerged, though, it became clear that the title was a reference to a musical concept within the record rather than to disbandenment. The inevitable sighs of relief followed, but once that gave way the whispers of excitement were louder than per usual for a new album, since the faithful knew that Boston’s finest were embarking on new ground. You’d be hard pressed to find a single apprehensive voice, though, as the Dropkick Murphys are a band who have gained the total trust of their following, so much so that virtually no one has been left with any doubt that they can indeed pull off the concept with a degree of aplomb, and predictably, such premeditations turn out to be bang on target.

With most concept records, the most obvious stylistic shift is in the lyrics, and that’s very much the case here. Songs concerning Irish immigrants to America are nothing new for the band, but this record explores the theme with a greater focus, following the journey of a fictional character, Cornelius Larkin, whose trials and tribulations are based loosely around band members’ own collective experiences. It’s this sense of personal experience which helps the songs here escape the pretentiousness so may other bands fall victim to, and adds genuine heart to what are already hugely accomplished compositions. Another change which has come about to tie-in with the concept is vocally, where Ken Casey largely takes the reigns, leaving usual leader Al Barr in the backseat. This was clearly a deliberate ploy scene as Casey will find the subject matter far more relatable than Barr, who is the only member not of Irish descent, and although his scintillating snarl has become one of the band’s distinctive features, its relegation here proves to be a case of tasteful judgment. Unsurprisingly, this record also turns out to be their most traditionally influenced to date, and although the buzz of guitars still characterises their sound it is often balanced out by the sound of fiddles, flutes and the like on many of the albums songs.

Thankfully, though, the concept hasn’t brought about any overwhelming change in the band’s sound. They’ve always favoured comfortable evolution over rapid reinvention, and this sensible approach means that while this record is a fresh experience, it still maintains a reassuring sense of familiarity. Everything we have come to want and expect from a Dropkick Murphys album is here, be it the rousing bagpipes, the drunken singalongs or simply the joyous fun they have come to convey so well, it’s all here in bucket loads. Perhaps what is most pleasing about this record, however, is that the band has seemingly learnt from it’s few past mistakes. 'The Meanest Of Times,' though a thoroughly enjoyable listen, could also become a tiresome one at times, with it’s sheer in-your-face intensity being largely responsible for this problem. Indeed it wasn’t until the tenth track that they decided to slow the tempo down, and even then 'Fairmount Hill' was a brooding beast which didn’t exactly equate to a breather. Here, though, they only wait until four songs in before they drop 'Cruel,' which also happens to be one of the best mid-tempo pieces they’ve yet come up with. Another slower moment comes in the shape of 'Broken Hymns,' which while not exactly a progressive epic is one of the most ambitious songs they have yet put their name to. It’s probably the best example of the concept paying off, as it’s hard to perceive them getting away such a track on any of their previous releases.

That’s not to say that this album’s strongest moments are all it’s slower ones, though, as the rest of the record sees the band hitting the nail on the head of what they do best. Opening duo 'Hang ‘Em High' and the title track find them shooting from all cylinders, and are surely destined to become live favourites, while on 'The Irish Rover' – the only cover here – they once again put their own twist on a traditional Irish song to great effect. Even 'Memorial Day,' which was underwhelming as a stand alone single impresses within the context of the album, giving it a required lift with it’s accessible and upbeat melody. In fact, this song could be viewed as representative of the record as a whole, since it is arguably their most easily digestable yet. There’s no sense of them changing their sound to captivate more mainstream audiences though, and as if to prove that their stock has never been higher, Bruce Springsteen even makes an appearance on 'Peg O’ My Heart,' along with NOFX’s Fat Mike and The Living End’s Lenny Clarke, who appear on earlier tracks.

Having seemingly knocked their heads on a glass ceiling with their previous release, the news that Dropkick Murphys are very much back to their best could not be more welcome. 'Going Out In Style' isn’t a perfect album – it loses a little bit of steam towards it’s conclusion, and some may see it as being a little too soft – but it’s a definite improvement which can legitimately be compared to their best works. How long they can keep the quality this high is debatable, and there must surely come a time when their standards begin to slip, but for now the band deserve nothing but praise for being one of the most consistent around. It’s this bulletproof reliability which has gained them the total trust of their following, and come the day when the do eventually decide the time is right to hang up the ‘pipes, you can bet that they’ll sing their swansong and go out with the style they’ve become accustomed to.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2011



7325 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album's streaming here

http://3voor12.vpro.nl/speler/luisterpaal/43023771#luisterpaal.44495694

I'm definitely biased scene as they're one of my favourite bands and they pretty much got me into 'proper' music, but even from an objective point of view this rules.

Review seems a bit long but I put more into it than I usually do, if anyone could think of a better summary I'd appreciate it.

WatchItExplode
February 23rd 2011



3227 Comments


I'll never fully understand why these guys (and Flogging Molly) have such rabid fans but well written and way to get this out there Ali...

Tyrael
February 23rd 2011



20824 Comments


Nicely done!

iFghtffyrdmns
February 23rd 2011



7047 Comments


Generally just can't stand these guys...saw them a couple times three or four years back and they always seemed to be more annoying and arrogant than anything, but to each his/her own.

Nice review anyway, well deserved pos.

Spec
February 23rd 2011



27135 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Band rules.

Digging: Rinoa - An Age Among Them

BigHans
February 23rd 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Title track smokes. Good review, love this band.

Hep Kat
February 23rd 2011



15344 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i listened to this earlier today, and it's definitely better than their last album. i've seen dropkick live at least a dozen times. they used to be one of my absolute favorite bands

Digging: Botany Boyz - Forever Botany

FelixCulpa
February 23rd 2011



1239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review, looking forward to hearing it.

Nagrarok
February 23rd 2011



8184 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dropkick Murphys have kinda grown off me but I'll still look into this. Nice review as well.

Jesuslaves
February 23rd 2011



4655 Comments


Ooooh, this is out. Yay.

STOP SHOUTING!
February 23rd 2011



631 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice comprehensive review ali and thanks for the stream.

mallen-
February 23rd 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Great review, very excited to hear this and was really hoping it would be better than The Meanest of Times.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2011



7325 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks guys : )

ConsiderPhlebas
February 23rd 2011



6157 Comments


Great review. Only ever heard TGAH by these guys.

mallen-
February 23rd 2011



1235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Phlebas get Blackout and/or Warrior's Code

ConsiderPhlebas
February 23rd 2011



6157 Comments


Will do, man

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2011



20856 Comments


Good stuff Ali & I will get around to this at some stage this year.

Summary is fine as is (unless you've already changed it). Review is a little long, but it's all good explanation, so I can handle it. You may want to re-read those 1st few sentences though as they read a little awkwardly & ther is an extra/incorrect word or 2,

BallsToTheWall
February 23rd 2011



44164 Comments


Great review. Need this.

Blackbelt54
February 23rd 2011



4269 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

cool i should check this out

renegadestrings
February 24th 2011



1440 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the single didn't excite me... but the stream has changed my mind. lovin it already. i see an increase in alcohol consumption in the near future



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