A summer on the so called "punk rock summer camp", the Warped tour seems to have had a considerable effect on Flogging Molly, as Drunken Lullabies sees them playing up their punk side and stowing away the ballads more than on their debut, Swagger. And for the better too â?? Drunken Lullabies is a stronger and more consistent album.
The band are tighter, a fact highlighted by the reappearance of Steve Albini at the console, who, as ever, lets them play on their strengths to produce twelve tracks of hi-octane celt-core. All instrumentation is clearly audible throughout â?? no mean feat considering the band features fiddle, tin whistle, accordion and mandolin alongside the traditional two guitars, bass and drums, and often at breakneck speeds. Singer Dave King (a Kilkenny man no less) seems to have hit his lyrical stride, at times damning and at others despondent.
A recent trip home weighs heavy in the albums lyrics, casting a mournful shadow â?? "The Kilburn High Road", a rousing anthem, ends with "Oh Mary, this london's a wonderful sight", a line from an old (and very sad) irish song about immigration, "Mountains Of Mourne". Elsewhere, on "The Son Never Shines (On Closed Doors)", King sings of his mother â?? "Death comes like a thief in the nightâ?¦ Well maybe it's then, she said, I'll see you again". But all the while an air of excitement permeates the performances, King audibly eggs on guitarist Dennis Casy, shouting "C'mon Dennis" at the beginning of Swagger, a song instrumental only for an occasional shout of "Don't know where I'm going". At the songs end King can be heard commenting "Bad fookin' arse". Bassist Nathen Maxwell turns his hand to singing on "Cruel Mistress", penning a tale of a sad life on the sea with the immortal line "Now every whale spouts â??Go to Hell!'". Elsewhere, on the aforementioned "The Son Never Shines", FM give Palace Brothers a run for their money, lyrically confirming that the pain of immigration hasn't left us.
Make no mistake, in all respects Flogging Molly have hit their stride and made an album the Pogues would be proud of, delivering an absolute classic that, even in march, is a safe bet for album of the year.