Dropkick Murphys Signed and Sealed in Blood Review

Released 2013.  

BBC Review

Quincy punks’ eighth album underlines their appeal.

Alistair Lawrence 2013

After starting life in the early 90s as a gnashing hardcore band fond of a nod to their Gaelic roots, Dropkick Murphys have gradually added and interlaced something more folky, ambitious and musically dexterous to their sound.

For their troubles, they’ve grown in popularity but have had to endure the digs of punk fans unable to see past the green football scarves on their merch table. Maybe some people just hate bagpipes and loud guitars in the same song. That their influence can be heard in rising newcomers such as Crowns means their sound has officially become more than just a quirky hybrid, though.

Predictably but not to its detriment, Signed and Sealed in Blood delivers a mix of rousing rock songs and enough jigs and whistles to get a singsong going at one of their famous St Patrick’s Day shows. There are also some nice surprises that compensate for the occasional swing and miss.

The Season’s Upon Us arrives a month late but is a funny addition to the alternative Christmas song canon. “My sisters are wackjobs, I wish I had none / Their husbands are losers and so are their sons,” begins a hellish description of being home for the holidays to which more than a few people can relate. Out of Our Heads is fine burst of unexpected, blue-collar rock, perhaps the recessive gene of Bruce Springsteen stopping by for a guest spot on their last album, 2011’s Going Out in Style.

The two tracks bookending things are perhaps the weakest. The Boys Are Back revs things up only to spin its wheels, while droopy closing ballad End of the Night sounds like it’s wandered off on its own after one too many. In contrast, Prisoner’s Song borrows some of the irresistible swagger of I'm Shipping Up to Boston (immortalised by The Departed’s soundtrack), and Rose Tattoo bleeds with florid emotion.

More of the same isn’t a bad prescription for banishing any New Year blues when what’s being served up is something as boisterous and cheery as this.

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