Dropkick Murphys come on STRONG with their ninth album.Born & Bred Records, 2017
7.5 / 10
Dropkick Murphys are synonymous with Boston, Massachusetts; celebrating the city’s rowdy, fight-all-comers spirit and Irish roots. You would think that after eight albums, this shtick would get a little old. On the band’s ninth album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, Dropkick Murphys’ members do come off sounding older but only through their approach to the album’s songwriting. Lead vocalist Al Barr lost his brother-in-law to an overdose. Singer/bassist Ken Casey has also seen the tragic effects of addiction and recently said, “I’d say I’ve been to 50 wakes in the last three years.” The shared sentiment is felt throughout their latest album. However, its reflective and sometimes somber tone is overpowered by a enthusiastic refusal to give up. You could call 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory a band-aid for wounded souls but the band-aid would be refused because we’re talking about Boston here!
This purpose of empowerment has revived the band and fuels an excellent cover of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. The song’s battle-cry is so loud that it spills over in “4-15-13,” which commemorates the tragic Boston marathon bombing. Aside from their heartfelt anthems, the band pours everything they have into the songs resembling those from their past like the ready-to-fight “I Had A Hat” and the fun “First Class Loser”. “First Class Loser” gives a full-on description of a pest that could be in anyone’s life but treating it with levity with lyrics like, “We’ve all got some loser in us/ But it ain’t a full time job/ I may be a little difficult/ But I’m not a total knob.” Another standout is the nostalgic “Sandlot” that yearns for the crazier days of cutting up (by even stealing cars) and bears a resemblance to Manchester band James’ single “Laid”. 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory is a strong effort from a band that doesn’t HAVE to be this strong because they’ve got their core fans. However, when Dropkick Murphys bring the Glory, they bring it big time.