Going Out in Style



If you’ve ever heard a Dropkick Murphys song, you know exactly what you’re in for when you pick up Going Out in Style. If you haven’t, here’s a crash course: Crashing guitars, clattering drums, fluttery banjos and screeching bagpipes.

The Murphys know their niche and they’re sticking to it. But that doesn’t mean they lack creativity. In fact, Going Out in Style stands as the Bostonian band’s most adventurous album to date. What’s particularly cool about it is that they manage this change in sound without altering any of what makes them great.

The most important, and yet most subtle change is in the arrangements. Dropkick Murphys is a punk band first and foremost, and as such the guitars tend to overwhelm any other instruments.

Going Out continues the Murphys’ previous album, The Meanest of Times’ trend of moving the focus toward the Irish-influenced instrumentation. Some of the songs (“Peg O’ My Heart,” for instance, where Bruce Springsteen makes a guest appearance) have so much mandolin and flute action that they could be confused with easygoing Railroad Earth tunes.

That’s not to say they’ve lost their edge. This album is as tough as anything the Murphys have ever done (with the exception of “Memorial Day,” which plays like a Celtic punk b-side from a Hannah Montana record). Where Going Out in Style really shines is in the songs that catch you off guard.

Songs like “Cruel” and “Broken Hymns,” where they take a step back from ramming barre chords and crash cymbals into your ear canals, are what keep the album from getting too repetitive. “Take ‘em Down” — a foot-stompin’ guitar-strummin’ union rallying cry that would make Woody Guthrie cry tears of pure socialism — works the same way. It’s placed between two more traditional punk songs to keep the flow going.

This focus on cohesion and balance is what makes Going Out in Style such a compelling listen. The Dropkick Murphys change so little, and yet it makes such a difference.

Wyatt Anderson