Album Review: Dropkick Murphys – “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”
It’s hard not to like Dropkick Murphys. Whether it’s covering old Irish folk songs, or dishing out their distinctive brand of celtic-infused sing-a-long punk, there is an infectious energy to everything they do. So if you pick up a Dropkick Murphys album, to an extent, you know what you’re getting, and 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory very much fits that mould.
The album opens with a cover of the traditional Irish song, The Lonesome Boatman, which has become something of an anthem among Irish football fans, and they cover it really well in their own inimitable style, and this really sets the tone for the album. Everything you’ve come to know and love from Dropkick Murphys is here, including the usual pop punk sound on Rebels with a Cause, the bagpipes on Blood, and the unusual but not necessarily unwelcome tinge of stadium rock that creeps into Paying my Way. It’s not reinventing the wheel but it is very good, and that’s what this band are all about.
However, with all that being said, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory does have one thing that marks it out as something unique compared to the usual Dropkick Murphys fare. 4.15.13 is perhaps the most sombre, reflective track the band have ever produced. Utterly drenched in emotion, and understandably so given the subject matter of the Boston marathon bombing in 2013. As proud Boston natives, it’s really interesting to see them put aside the usual party vibes in favour of something very real.
I would be remiss not to point out though, that while Dropkick Murphys are responsible for many great covers, there is the occasional dodgy (not the 90s indie outfit) outing, and one such is present on 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory in the form of one of the worst covers of You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry and The Pacemakers that you’ll ever hear. Not a good call at all.
On balance, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is a good album, with a couple of excellent moments, and a couple of moments which let it down. It's certainly not on the level of The Gang's All Here, The Warriors Code or Blackout, but it's a solid effort overall. You know what you're getting for the most part with this band, and they don't deviate too heavily from the formula that made them great, and nor should they.