Dropkick Murphys (DKM) are back, and their timing couldn’t be better. Their new album, Going Out In Style, dropped on March 1. As one of America’s most talented and popular Celtic-rock bands — one of the few and proud to feature bagpipes and electric guitar on most every song — Dropkick Murphys know a thing or two about their fan base. It’s no wonder the new album came out mere weeks before St. Patrick’s Day. You could add Going Out In Style to DKM’s seven full-length studio and various live albums, toss them all into your CD player (or onto a playlist on your fancy schmancy iPod), and you wouldn’t need any other soundtrack for your Guinness and Jameson binge come March 17.
But the Murphys aren’t just about whiskey, beer and barroom brawls. They are, and have been for their 15 years of existence, fierce supporters of the working class. They’re blue collar guys, and their music has always told the tales of the workers on whose shoulders this country was built. With its lead off battle cry, “Hang ‘Em High,” and the eerily timely, pro-union anthem, “Take ‘Em Down,” Going Out In Style could serve as the soundtrack for the organized labor protests in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio or anywhere else where the man is trying to keep people down.
Going Out In Style also showcases Dropkick Murphys’ evolution as storytellers. While, in the past, DKM has used individual songs to tell great stories (check out “Barroom Hero” or “Boys on the Docks” among many others), Going Out In Style goes a quantum leap farther as the entire album tells the tale of Cornelius “Connie” Larkin. Connie is actually a fictional construct built from the band members’ personal experiences, family histories and cultural identifications, and he serves as the perfect cipher for everything Going Out In Style has to say
Beyond all the Celtic culture and working class pride, Going Out In Style is just one hell of a lot of fun to listen to. As a longtime Murphys fan, I found myself somewhat concerned by the “maturity” seeping into the past couple of albums. They were much less powerful and much more hit and miss than earlier offerings, and they gave me the impression that DKM might be losing its edge. Going Out In Style, even with its decidedly grown-up guest spot by one Mr. Bruce Springsteen on ”Peg O’ My Heart,” harkens back to Blackout and DKM’s even earlier work and shows that the boyos from Boston still know how to rock.