May 30, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 69°F


Punk rock band triumphs with percussive tunes

Despite having churned out its famed Irish punk rock ruckus for more than 16 years, the Dropkick Murphys show no sign of slowing down. The group’s latest album, “Signed and Sealed in Blood,” not only reflects multiple roots but also revisits many themes seen in previous albums.

The first track, “The Boys Are Back,” begins the album in a marching style reflective of their punk background, complete with company vocals. As the song opens up, more instruments in the group are incorporated, in particular the bagpipes of Josh “Scruffy” Wallace, to give it the signature Irish flair that the band is known for.

Subsequent tracks, including the titular track, “Rose Tattoo,” exhibit an almost pirate-like lilt inspired by the use of banjo, accordion and body percussion. It works well with the fight-song motif the group uses to illustrate the working class theme, one that has been seen in tracks on previous albums, most notably 2011’s union anthem, “Take ‘Em Down.” The group also continues its commitment to Boston athletics by honoring Red Sox manager Jimmy Collins in “Jimmy Collins’ Wake.”

A deviation that may throw off new and old listeners was the inclusion of the Christmas track, “The Season’s Upon Us.” While the music itself is standard Murphys fare, bassist Ken Casey’s gritty vocals spin an unconventional holiday tale. He sings of “mischief and mayhem and songs to be sung” and a nephew he’d like to “take out back and deck more than the halls,” rather than a traditional holiday carol of peace and happiness.

The album closes with “End of the Night,” a soft ballad that offsets the rowdiness of the rest of the album but stays true to the instrumentation and lyricism that the group is known for. It ties the album together into a package that will satiate seasoned fans and introduce new listeners to the style this Boston collective has been churning out since 1996.

Three stars.