Since breaking into the scene in 1998 the Dropkick Murphys have been the symbol of everything Irish, officially grabbing the title in 2006 when “I’m Shipping Off to Boston” became the unofficial theme to the Irish littered “The Departed.” For the last 17 years. The Dropkick Murphys, who continue to find ways to breathe fresh air into something they’ve done for seemingly ever. Even while growing and emerging as a political force both for workers and smashing down the Flaming Bush, they manage to stay true to the Dropkick Murphys style. Their last album Going Out in Style continued their growth into a concept album, far stretching the previous thought box around Dropkick Murphys, proving there is no box. The album told the tale of Cornelius Larkin and showcased how far they had come in those 17 years while also never forgetting how they got there. How do you follow up an album like that? By telling everyone you’re back…then proving it by punching their faces off with fists of Irish Punk!
“The boys are back/ and they’re looking for trouble” opens Signed and Sealed in Blood, the latest album from the Dropkick Murphys. It’s an immediate invitation to grab your mates, spill half your pint, and sing along. You won’t mind that they’re “coming for you.”
Signed and Sealed in Blood follows the Dropkick Murphys 2011 album, Going Out in Style. Fans of the band will discover more of what they love here. There’s a party atmosphere and the strong Irish influence that lead them to be dubbed a “Celtic Punk” band. Newcomers will find strong choruses, plus mandolins, bagpipes and whistles, and might even decide to try their very first Guinness.
“Rose Tattoo” is the more reflective song on the album, exploring how memories can be shown through tattoos. The tattoo-like drum beat works really well over the final chorus, which will have you singing along after the first listen: “I’ve got your name written here in a rose tattoo.” This then bursts into the frantic pace of “Burn.” “The Season’s Upon Us” is another stand-out track. It’s a Christmas song with a difference. The track begins normally enough with mistletoe and eggnog, but soon launches into a catalogue of family dysfunctions, with the relatives you can’t stand and their boring partners. And don’t even get started on the kids. The real tone of the album, though, is celebration. “Jimmy Collins’ Wake” is a celebration of life, and “Out on the Town” is a rhythmic, riff-driven song that wants to get everybody up and enjoying themselves, reaching for the whisky.
“End of the Night” is a slower tempo album finisher. The last orders are up, and the barman is telling you to leave, but as the track says, “It’s the end of the night/ but we ain’t going home.” The song eventually fades out like the raucous drunk lot, stumbling on up the road at three in the morning.