A bit has happened since I first listened and reviewed this Boston band's previous release on Crosscheck Records in 2003. I'm not talking about tsunamis or politics here, it's just that I saw them perform live with the Briggs and Flogging Molly in Antwerp a couple weeks ago and these guys have managed to add a fantastic finishing point with this very album, which makes me really positive about this band's bright-looking future.
Although not a lot has changed since that previous album when it comes about the choice of song style (you still get the genuine Dropkick Murphy sound without bagpipes in most of them), in my opinion they've added even more of that thing I'd like to call "accessible fun," which means these songs are spiced up with amazing sing-along backings and catchy guitars that can make an audience roar and move. In fact, it's as if they've been listening to and integrating some of the Bouncing Souls guitar work in their songs. At the same time they also reminded me somewhat more of Social Distortion (with whom they'll be touring soon) with gentle in-between guitar licks that ease down the energetic sound a bit. The vocals of firefighter and original Dropkick singer Mike McColgan are again remarkably infectious and at times reminded me of those of SNFU's Mr. Chi Pig (very obious in "Pull The Pin"), although the sound is very different here of course.
There's songs that have a somewhat different sound maybe, like "Tale Of Mass Deception" that has that typical Irish body-waving accordion touch, followed by "Drink Tonight," which is a full-throttle anthemic punk song, and then there's finishing song "Unions And The Law," a partially acoustic track that (as far as I can judge without the lyricsheet available), warns about the indifference and lack of opposition towards bosses and companies whose only quest is to look for gold, while they don't care about the families and relationships that suffer from this. The three outstanding songs for me on this album were "You Alone," "In Defense Of Dorchester" (their first hit song I guess) and "Hands Down," because this band is best at delivering Boston street punk songs with the "hey-hey's" and "woohoo's" chants topped with some crushing and riffy guitars accompanying it, never forgetting to keep the melodies going.
The year is only a few days old, but I'm sure this one will have a good chance of making it to my Top 20 list for 2005.