Dropkicck Murphys is scheduled to release its latest album, Turn Up That Dial Friday through its own label, Born and Bred Records. In celebration of the album’s release, the band announced Monday that it will host a free, livestream album release part Friday. The band’s 10th album, it offers plenty to celebrate, too, not the least of which being its featured musical arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. The record’s lyrical content pairs with the noted musical arrangements to make for even more engagement and entertainment. It will be discussed a little later. The album’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make the album one of the best of the band’s existing albums and one more of this year’s top new rock albums.
Dropkick Murphys’ latest album, Turn Up That Dial is one of the best of the band’s existing albums to date. It is in reality, the band’s best album since its 2003 album, Blackout. That is just this critic’s own take of course. Part of the record’s success comes through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements featured in this 39-minute presentation are more akin to the works featured in Blackout and its predecessors than the albums between Blackout and this record. Those records – five in all – just seemed more “experimental” than fully focused. Putting it more into layman’s terms, the noted albums – The Warrior’s Code, The Meanest of Times, Going out in Style, Signed and Sealed in Blood, and 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory – did not have as many of the memorable hooks, melodies and choruses that this and the band’s other albums have presented. Rather, they seemed to present more of an air of the band taking a risk and seeing where the songs would go. That is not to say that those albums were bad by any means. They were just less memorable than this album and the band’s four other albums. Every song on this record features that catchy, infectious upbeat Celtic punk for which Dropkick Murphys has come to be known over the course of the band’s life. There is even a hint of the traditional Scottish song, ‘Scotland The Brave’ in ‘Chosen Few,’ one of the new album’s entries. It is a subtle addition to the song, but those who listen closely will catch the band’s unique arrangement of the song. The short and simple here is that the musical arrangements featured in Turn Up That Dial will take listeners back to the sound to which they have become accustomed from Dropick Murphys while still maintaining some originality in their own presentation. That stylistic return to form creates a solid foundation for Turn Up That Dial. Building on that foundation is the lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical arrangements.
The lyrical content that is featured in Turn Up That Dial is of note because of the variety in its presentations. ‘Middle Finger,’ one of the album’s singles, serves well to exhibit that variety. Acording to co-front man Ken Casey, the song is somewhat biographical. “Thinking of my younger days, I made things a lot harder for myself than they needed to be – and still pay for some of those mistakes now,” he said. The note in the song’s chorus about Casey constantly putting up the middle finger, being rebellious, echoes Casey’s statement. It is a statement that will resonate with a wide range of listeners, making it quite accessible.
In contrast to the story featured in ‘Middle Finger,’ ‘Chosen Few’ takes a more political path as it promotes unity among Americans. Of course, political commentary is nothing new for Dropkick Murphys. In the case of this song, Casey has been cited as stating the song focuses on the havoc caused by now former President Donald Trump and the need for America to unite despite what Trump caused. That message of unity comes early on in the song as Casey sings, “For a democracy to work/We gotta see it from both sides/Stop pointing fingers/Shut your mouth and compromise/These last 10 months/The division really grew/While the guy in charge said, ‘It’s just another flu’/Let’s get our s*** together/Not make things such a fuss/We can’t behave like nitwits/The world is watching us/No more silly temper tantrums/Let’s all just behave/remember who we are/We’re the home of the brave.” The commentary continues with Casey singing in the song’s second verse, “We used to be the heroes/Today we are the trash/They took all our good will and they shoved it up our ass/The welcome has worn out for the red, white, and blue/If we don’t smarten up/They’re gonna tell us all to screw/But can you really blame ‘em all/For thinking that we suck/Our antics and behavior/The people are fed up/So let’s find a common ground on which we can agree/Congress, senate, White House/And even Billy Dee.” The song’s third and final verse follows in similar fashion, complete with Casey and company singing, “Na na na na/Na na na na/Hey, hey/Goodbye,” a cynical statement that fittingly sends Trump on his way following his election defeat. Yes, Trump was defeated as much as he wants to deny that thanks to his narcissistic pride. Sadly, even now in a post-Trump era, America still has not heeded that call for unity. If anything, the nation’s division is just as wide as ever if not wider than before. That aside, that the band would once again take on a socio-political commentary among many other topics here is more proof of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. That the band would do so in a fashion that makes the topic so accessible adds even more to that importance.
As Dropkick Murphys closes out its new album, the record’s lyrical diversity continues in ‘I Wish You Were Here.’ The song is a lyrical tribute to the father of Casey’s fellow co-front man, Al Barr. The folk style approach to the touching musical elegy in its musical arrangement partners well with Barr’s warm yet bittersweet rumination on his love for his father. Barr’s statement that, “I wish you were here/How I wish you were here/I’m out on my own/I’m so far from home/And I wish you were here” is certain to resonate with so many listeners. We all reach that point in life in which we really do miss our parents whether it be as adults ourselves or even younger. To that end, the melancholy mood of the noted lines, paired with the song’s equally beautifully painful musical content makes this song even more impacting. When this song’s accessible lyrical content is considered along with that in the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content. When the impact of the album’s lyrical content and musical arrangements is considered in whole, that collective shows even more why this album is successful. Even with all of this in mind, the album’s sequencing still deserves its own attention.
The sequencing of Turn Up That Dial is important to note because of the role that it has in terms of the album’s general effect. The songs range from just over two-and-a-half minutes to as much as almost four-and-a-half minutes throughout the course of the album’s nearly 40-minute run time. Even with that range of run times from one song to the next, the sequencing ensures that the songs’ energies keep the record’s pacing solid throughout. That attention to detail ensures in its own way that the record keeps moving and that in turn, listeners remain engaged and entertained. The result is that listeners will be left feeling fulfilled, knowing they have experienced a presentation that is another of Dropkick Murphys’ best albums.
Dropkick Murphys’ new album Turn Up That Dial is a work that will impress any of the band’s audiences. That is proven in no small part to the album’s musical arrangements. The arrangements in question are everything that audiences have come to expect from the veteran Celtic punk rock band. The lyrical content featured in the album, which is largely presented in a somewhat retrospective fashion from one song to the next, presents plenty of diversity in its topics. What’s more, the songs’ lyrical themes are accessible and delivered in such fashion, too. That ensures listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment in its own way, too. The record’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation. It ensures that the album progresses fluidly from one song to the next. The result is that listeners will find the album ending before they realize it, but in the best sense possible. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, they make Turn Up That Dial one of Dropkick Murphys’ best albums to date and one more of this year’s top new rock albums. Turn Up That Dial is scheduled for release Friday through Born & Bred Records.
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