Once upon a time, Dropkick Murphys’ ‘Celtic punk’ was a tiny genre of a genre, limited to acts like The Pogues and Black 47, and it differentiated from punk mostly in attitude and accent. But then the twenty-first century’s internet-driven fragmentation of popular music came about, where even a minor hit could birth a ‘new sound’. First came the ‘workingman’s punk’ of acts like Lucero (QRO album review) and The Gaslight Anthem (QRO live review), who brought more of a blue collar sensibility and background to the liberal leftist style, and then acts like Flogging Molly (QRO live review) and Dropkick Murphys put a true Eire swing on that, with accordions and bagpipes (and songs about Boston). 2011’s Going Out of Style saw the band reach their biggest success to-date, and Signed and Sealed In Blood will keep that going, as it’s got exactly all that you’re looking for in a new Dropkick Murphys album.
From uproarious opener “The Boys Are Back” to barstool goodbye anthem “End of the Night”, Signed is most definitely a Dropkick Murphys record. It’s energy raises up from the muck of the working class Southie life in ways both authentic and modern. What other band (other than The Baseball Project) could writer a song about the wake of Jimmy Collins, the first manager of the Boston Red Sox (then Americans) who won the first World Series 110 years ago? There’s punk rock accordion (“Prisoner’s Song”), punk rock bagpipes (“The Battle Rages On”), and a kiss-off to family Christmas (“The Season’s Upon Us”).
Admittedly, Signed and Sealed In Blood isn’t vastly different than other Dropkick Murphys records, and one does have to wonder whether the Irish-American world they’re regaling is more of a myth, especially these days (having a “Rose Tattoo” is virtually common these days). But you’re not looking for elitist sarcasm from Dropkick Murphys – rather the Celtic punk that’s deservedly popular these days.