Aaah..! Let the bartender pour you a stout, and sit down at the bar - or better yet, get up and dance! Because the world's first and foremost Californian Irish punks are back again! Flogging Molly are back with a new album for your listening pleasure - and it's a familiar journey of energetic drinking songs and Irish anthems the six lads and one lassie invites you along for. I believe vocalist Dave King said it best; "If it didnít have mandolin, accordion, fiddle and whistle, it would be punk-rock, and if it didnít have guitar, bass and drums, it would be traditional Irish music" - the perfect recipe for party music.
The new album contains 15 tracks of traditional (a word perhaps redundant in this context) Flogging Molly music - the album even starts out with a single snare hit leading into full blast of distorted guitars, driving rhythm and a fiddle melody. Just the way we've learned to love it over the course of the last two albums (not counting their live release, "Alive Behind the Green Door"). The instant recognition doesn't at all seem tired - on the contrary, it puts a smile on my lips. Just sitting down and listening, I can't stop my foot tapping along to the beat and my belly screaming for dark beer.
Molly has slowed down a bit on this latest release, and has brought more focus to the folk side of their fusion. While the rocking songs are just as invigorating as on the previous albums, the amount of slow songs has increased - not for the worse, as this only adds in texture what it may decrease in dancing. And, let's face it, there's only so much you can do with Irish folk transformed into punk rock. Which leads me to...
...the inevitable short-coming of this album. Having a catalogue of over 25 songs already, you're bound to have trouble keeping your songs original. Especially if you write Irish folk music, with it's particular scales, instrumentation and sound. Adding the elements of punk to it has given Flogging Molly their edge, but it only lasts so long. This album does at times sound just like "Swagger" and "Drunken Lullabies" - both excellent albums, but if you didn't like those, I doubt you'll be convinced by this. All of this is a very subjective matter - if you like Flogging Molly's style, this album will tickle your fancy. But it's not very progressive.
I choose not to let that affect me though, as it is Flogging Molly we're listening to! Opening track "Screaming at the Wailing Wall" (a social commentary on Bush's war-mongering, in true working class spirit) is as danceable as it is familiar; march-paced duet with singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams, "Factory Girls", smells of both country and Irish folk; dramatic up-tempo "Queen Anne's Revenge" hooks you with minor key phrases (and has the bassist singing lead); short a capella song "The Wrong Company". All in all, over the course of more than 50 minutes, Flogging Molly serves up a good platter of their (within their style) different flavors - heartfelt, drunk, agitated, nostalgic, homesick, romantic.
If you've heard Flogging Molly (or better yet, seen them live - an experience of magnitude), you basically know what to expect when you pop "Within a Mile From Home" into your sound system - just a little less with the distortion, and more folk. But there's no denying that the band does their material justice, and you'll never be bored with Flogging Molly as your company! This album, for me, certainly hits closer than a mile from home.