Flatfoot 56's new record Toil is exactly what you'd want as the fourth record of a respectable Celtic punk band. If you've been following the band since day one, or at least the first album, I suspect you'll be happy with the musical evolution and lyrical growth of our Windy City brothers.
What's the first thing you want to hear when you put on a Celtic punk record? Yeah, that's right, bagpipes. "Brother, Brother" starts the record off in perfect Flatfoot style. It's a bagpipe intro-ed hardcore tune that is about a drug-addicted friend and the path he's chosen. It even has a little hardcore vocal visit from the younger Banwinkle brother. This is the first time since Knuckles Up that the boys started an album with an anthemic, call to arms type song and not a short intro song. While the intros on Jungle of the Midwest Sea and Black Thorn were good I'm glad they went back to their roots on this one.
The new single "I Believe It" is a strong song that reminds us what we like about the Flatfoot boys. It's nice to see a bunch of fun loving, rough and tumble guys who are nice, thoughtful, and okay to bring around your grandmother. The rest of the album will get you air drumming in your car or cubicle.
The songwriting maturity of Toil is showcased in the title track. "Toil" is a slow building, rebellious, passionate song that is written by and for those of us who work night and day and night to feed those people that go home early. "6 10" is a fun little story about talking to somebody a lot bigger than you and squeaks out a fun little moral ("Why are little people always so bold?") and "Winter in Chicago" is so catchy you'll hear it in your dreams. And for all you fans of the Flatfoot live show you'll get your feet stompin' on the last track with the crowd favorite "I'll Fly Away," which has been on their set list for years.
Tobin and Co. are coming out with some great little tunes that strike a chord. If you're a long time fan like me not only will this CD make you listen to it over and over again but it will remind you why you love their other stuff too.
The rest of the album is solid and worth a listen then a relisten. The band passes around the mic for vocals; there are plenty of crunchy guitars, mandolin, and bagpipes. If you aren't up and dancin' then your feet are broken. If listening doesn't make you want to start a circle pit in the breakroom at work then I suggest you check your pulse. Start with an anthem and end with a hymn. There was nothing missing from this record except the sweat and camaraderie from one of their circle pits. Keep it up boys!