Dropkick Murphys - 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory album review

A Texas twist on hometown concerns

Dropkick Murphys 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory album cover

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Boston Irish folk punk is convenient media shorthand for the Murphys’ music, but it has tended to paint them into a corner over their 20-year career. Perhaps mindful of the pigeonhole, the band venture away from their own back yard for the first time, recording this new album in El Paso.

It results in a pleasingly broader palette, from the redneck power pop of Sandlot, to the melodic and bouncy Madness-like closer We’ll Meet Again. Not that they’re ignoring their roots, mind; both Paying My Way and Rebels With A Cause find them directing their blue collar Celtic rage at a stagnant political system that continues to fail kids and addicts in Massachusetts, their home state.

Few songs in their canon are as affecting or as perfectly realised as 4 15 13, written in response to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. The track owes a clear debt to the social commentary country hues of their early champion Steve Earle, the sound of a band learning to roar just as loud without the need to crank the amps up to 11.

Terry Staunton was a senior editor at NME for ten years before joined the founding editorial team of Uncut. Now freelance, specialising in music, film and television, his work has appeared in Classic Rock, The Times, Vox, Jack, Record Collector, Creem, The Village Voice, Hot Press, Sour Mash, Get Rhythm, Uncut DVD, When Saturday Comes, DVD World, Radio Times and on the website Music365.