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.