Dropkick Murphys has always been a band that writes songs about its own history, backed with sing-along choruses and the chime of a tin whistle. Its 2011 release, “Going Out in Style,” was a relatively elaborate release for the band. “Going Out in Style” is a concept record that followed the story of a fictional Irish immigrant, including his death and lineage. Through this character, members of Dropkick Murphys traced their own personal histories, experiences and Irish tradition.
“Signed and Sealed in Blood,” Dropkick Murphys’ new album, which dropped on Tuesday, abandons the overarching narrative but still reflects the strong traditionalist quality that makes up the core of the band’s style.
“Signed and Sealed” does not have the “constraints” of “Going Out in Style’s” narrative, said bassist Ken Casey in an interview with Billboard.com.
“This is just the opposite of that,” he said. “(This is) just us having fun and making the most catchy, sing-along kind of songs we can.”
“Signed and Sealed” appears to be just that. The songs are abound with “ohs” that could not be sung without the power of all seven, burly members of the band. Not to mention all the minor key breakdowns the album is strewn with, such as in “Prisoner’s Song” or the last minute of “Rose Tattoo.” Both of these moments in the album are reminiscent of “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” probably the most recognizable Dropkick Murphys song to date.
Besides slight changes in tempo, Dropkick Murphys play the same way it has in its previous records. Album opener “The Boys Are Back” observes a call-and-response between chants of the band members and the Dropkick Murphys’ signature punk rock bagpipe, a trick the band has used so frequently in the past that it has become a stylistic trait for the group. “Time To Go,” from its 2003 release “Blackout” has stark compositional similarities to “The Boys Are Back.”
The songs of “Signed and Sealed” follow a familiar landscape for the Dropkick Murphys. As such, the album closes with “End of the Night,” a song fitting for the sluggish bar patrons at 2:30 a.m. – the perfect audience for Dropkick Murphys. Songs about drinking and family connections are common topics for Dropkick Murphys but prove to be motifs of its lyrics in the same manner that bagpipes and accordions are of Celtic rock. With that said, Dropkick Murphys has a method that inspires listeners of the same background to associate with it in a way that other bands cannot.