Album Review: The Dropkick Murphys – “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory”

The Dropkick Murphys have delivered sturdy, shout-along anthems for more than 20 years. While at the same time they never strayed too far from a mix of their Irish and punk heritages. The Murphys returned  with their ninth studio effort, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. The album was their first to be recorded outside of Massachusetts, with the band relocating to El Paso, Texas for the entire creative process. Inspired by the group’s work with the Claddagh Fund for recovering addicts, it was released once again through their own imprint, Born & Bred Records. Upon release, 11 Short Stories debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200.

On “11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory” (Born & Bred), the band led by Ken Casey and Al Barr finds new inspiration in unexpected places to fuel its most potent album in years.

The cover song of “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Carousel,” is transformed into a stomping anthem with rock riffs and bagpipes. It’s one of several songs inspired by the opioid epidemic in their beloved Boston. Songs like  “Rebels With a Cause” that champions “dead end kids” and their plights. These Bostonians balances humorous story telling with them songs like “Kicked to the Curb” and “First Class Loser”.  The uplifting “4/15/2013” pays tribute to the Boston Marathon bombing victims by trying to capture the feeling of unity that took over the city after the terrorist attack, joining in a chorus of “We’re all just people trying to make our way.”

It’s a sentiment The Dropkicks amplify in the hopeful singalong “Until the Next Time,” emphasizing  the idea that glory can indeed come from tragic moments. The deep cut song “Paying My Way” shows singalong music at its best. 

Easily a future classic song. 

All the trademark elements are at work on this record. The hardcore adrenaline and shout-along choruses that helped the band break through with earlier albums like  “The Warrior Code”  and “Going Out in Style”. This along with tunes that pare back the bombast to show glimpses of gruff emotion

For all the serious subject matter here, the Dropkick Murphys haven’t lost their taste for fun. One listen to the song “I Had a Hat,” indicate’s this can be a party band if they desired to.

This album is and 11 out of 10.

The Perfect record.

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