Reviewed by Bec Hennessy
You always know what you are getting with Dropkick Murphys. Their style and attitude is easily recognisable. But somehow it’s never formulaic. I think it’s the pure joy they derive from what they do that emanates in each track, that makes you keep coming back for more. They can make me love a song about baseball, hell, even Christmas.
Signed and Sealed in Blood opens with ‘The Boys are Back’ – like we were worried they might have gone. It fades in with acoustic guitar then its all hand claps, bagpipes and punchy guitars. In case you weren’t sure they chant “The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble”.
‘Prisoner’s Song’ is straight up feet stomping, convict punk rock. Yelling “We’re dreaming of a future when our ship comes in”
‘Rose Tattoo’ is easily my personal favourite. More folk than punk, it’s stripped back and beautiful. Exhibiting their talent for telling a story, it’s a fervent tale of love, life and passion. “Signed and sealed in blood I would die for you”
Elsewhere ‘Jimmy Collins’ Wake’ is a wandering country bass line ode to the first manager of the Boston Red Sox. ‘The Season’s Upon us’ waltzes in. Do I hear bells? Don’t I hate Christmas? God, I have a soft spot for this song. Nay, I love it. A Lilting sing-a-long, you can picture it being sung drunkenly swaying side to side whilst you endure Christmas with your family that is (hopefully) less painful than this tale.
“Don’t Tear Us apart” has a beautiful opening melody that hooks me and holds me with the refrain “Don’t tear us apart you gotta show some heart”. ‘My Hero’ is dirty guitars and some sage advice regarding staying true to yourself and living to fight another day because “that’s what my old man would say”. ‘Out on the Town’ is an aptly named fun, country, punk party song complete with finger clicking and whistling.
The final track “End of the Night” is again, well named. It’s all schmaltzy. Lead singer sweaty, leaning on the mic crooning. With the punk twist of a room full of drunk’s not wanting to go home. Wanting to revel in this forever.
The beauty of Dropkick Murphys is how they somehow manage to be both wise and exuberant. Like a punk kid that didn’t want to grow up and be ‘boring’ but discovered it’s possible to grow up and still retain that cheekiness and joy in life.
If you haven’t experienced Dropkick Murphys then discover it. You will find yourself in your lounge room or ideally at one of their gigs singing along joyously with a bunch of people you just met and now love. Yelling and punching the air with a smile on your face. But don’t mistake this for simple, drunk, punk party music. It’s life music. It reminds you that life’s a struggle, but whilst you keep fighting you also keep dancing and finding hope.
I listen to Dropkick Murphys with a lopsided smile on my face. And that hope in my heart.