I planned on running some errands after writing a review for Dropkick Murphys’ Signed and Sealed in Blood. (Un)Fortunately, the whiskey breath oozing out of the record put me past 0.08%. A raucous collection of Irish-punk drinking songs for every occasion, the record celebrates the beauty that lies at the bottom of every bottle.
Musically, it’s just above what you’d expect. The occasional, textural flourishes of mandolin and varied guitars offer brief moments of instrumental diversion without drawing focus from the infinite variations they generate on a drunken “WHOA-OH-OH” theme. Ken Casey‘s vocal chords rip with joy, a desperate plea for joie de vivre to the listener who may or may not be drinking tea in their underwear. The lyrics are earnestly simple and occasionally clever, never forgetting that they’re intended to be sung by everyone.
The record is consistently inviting, urging you to have one more and fuck the rest. From the idiocy that arises amongst your first drinking buddies (“The Boys Are Back”) to the idiocy that arises with your current drinking buddies (“Out on the Town,” “Out of Our Heads”), each track reeks of ecstasy. Even the songs that are blatant attempts at topical niches land without painful anachronisms. “Jimmy Collin’s Wake” feels like a genuine invitation to celebrate life, not death. “The Season’s Upon Us” feels like an ACTUAL invitation to witness the wonderful, familial psychosis that is the holiday gauntlet (I escaped the last dregs of Christmas Eve drunk on vodka in my Uncle’s basement watching R. Kelley‘s “Trapped in the Closet” on IFC; I wasn’t the only one, I’m sure). The strangely poignant “Rose Tattoo” is a reminder that even when you’ve seen the world and lost the girl, a chorus of drunken bro’s will help you mourn.
It’s a record for people with actual problems; the responsibilities you can’t forget, even for a little while. It’s a record for the stubbled man in a wrinkled suit, desperate for anyone’s shoulder to cry on at the bar. Hopefully, it’s the shoulder of Ken Casey so he’ll push you off, punch you in the face, and pour you a beer.