Dropkick Murphys’ signature brand of Celtic punk could have been a one-trick pony, could have worn out its welcome, or even could have become a joke like fellow Bostonian (of course they’re from Boston) Ben Affleck’s love of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Yet they’ve managed to vary it up within their relatively narrow band, still delivering what their fans want, without exactly repeating themselves or going full-on caricature. Latest album Turn Up That Dial does turn up a number of their already known elements, with virtually every song a tribute to something or someone or somewhere that of course the Dropkick Murphys would tribute, but they do it with such cheer and energy that even those outside of New England will sing along.
Amongst the many tributes on Dial are those to music itself on the title track, Boston record stores with “Good As Gold” (yes, Taang! is namechecked, but so is “Rapper’s Delight”), and even a punk piper with “L-EE-B-O-Y”. There’s also missing being a rebel (“Smash Shit Up”), Boston (“City By the Sea”), and the “Middle Finger”. Yet their Celtic, workingman’s punk spirit is infectious, though perhaps best in their kiss-offs, to adults that still demand their birthday be a big thing with “H.B.D.M.F.” and a punk rock anti-Trump, but pro-America, “get your shit together” rocker “Chosen Few”, which some MAGA might actually hear.
Turn Up That Dial closes with an ode to singer Al Barr’s late father, “I Wish You Were Here”, the only sad song on the album, which highlights the good times of the rest. If you’re a Dropkick Murphys fan, this is probably the record you need to hear as times are hopefully getting better, and that’s what the Dropkick Murphys do quite well.