Dropkick Murphys: Signed and Sealed in Blood
Since Al Barr became Dropkick Murphys‘ lead singer in 1999, every album they have released has outsold the last. They have accomplished this by having a very formulaic approach to their music. A good Dropkick Murphys song has a punk backbone, Celtic charm, and a drunken-gang-vocal chorus. This formula is rarely strayed from on the band’s eighth studio album, Signed and Sealed in Blood.
The album begins with “The Boys Are Back.” They waste no time before getting right to the gang vocals, screaming “the boys are back and looking for trouble.” This is, of course, backed by a wall of distorted guitars and bagpipes. The exact same description can be applied to “Don’t Tear Us Apart” except the gang vocals of “The boys are back and looking for trouble” are replaced by “Don’t tear us apart/Will you show us some hidin’ in this trouble here where it starts/You won’t tear us apart.”
Even when the Murphys stray from their formula on tracks like “Rose Tattoo,” they don’t stray far. Instead of wailing distorted guitars, we get a mandolin and some acoustic instrumentation. The Irish folk song does still manage to squeeze in some gang vocals in the chorus, all be it not as loud as usual. Similarly “Jimmy Collins’ Wake” is a story-telling folk song about a Boston sports legend. The track marks a return to the popular subject of baseball but unlike “Tessie,” the track has a decidedly more folksy feel. Acoustic guitars, mandolin and pan flutes are used to set the mood but of course, it still has a gang vocal chorus.
While it is easy to be cynical about something so formulaic, there is an element of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After listening to Signed and Sealed in Blood once through, you can practically sing along to every song on subsequent listens–and more importantly, you want to sing along because it sounds so fun.
MP3: Dropkick Murphys “Rose Tatooo”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl