The Dropkick Murphys claim that their newest album, “Going Out In Style,” is a reflection on the life of a fictional Irish immigrant. Song titles such as “Cruel” and “The Hardest Mile” suggest that the character, Cornelius Larkin, had a tough go of it. The band turns the ominous titles into upbeat anthems, however.
The band’s approach is the same as it has always been: fast-paced punk with rousing, gang-vocal choruses that seem to be calls to drink, regardless of what the actual subject matter is. Not surprisingly, drinking is a popular topic. The title track and “The Irish Rover” are particularly booze-based, and would fit into the prototypical Bostonian soundtrack of “The Departed,” alongside its hit “I’m Shipping Up To Boston.”
The band’s Celtic influence is as present as ever, with bagpipes present in almost every track, along with mandolin to balance out the electric guitars. The band has a niche, and it’s in no hurry to leave it.
Guest stars add extra flair to a couple of tracks. Fat Mike, of fellow punk stalwart NOFX, chips in vocals to the rowdy funeral that is the title track, and in one of the band’s more publicized moments, Bruce Springsteen lends his voice to the group’s cover of the “Peg O’ My Heart.”
The band deserves praise for its ability to lengthen songs without getting repetitive, a task that most punk bands bungle as they become more mainstream. The album features a couple of short and sweet tracks, “Peg O’ My Heart” and “Take ‘Em Down,” which clock in at 2:20 and 2:11, respectively.
Although the band’s tracks might be getting longer, its original message is still the same after seven albums: Take the good with the bad, but when you take the bad, wash it down with a pint.