From beginning to end, the new disc is bursting with high energy tunes that show off the band’s signature rough and rowdy blend of punk rock noise and traditional Irish instrumentation. Among them are the parochial school anthem “Famous For Nothing”, the pounding requiem “God Willing”, and the socially conscious whirlwinds “The State Of Massachusetts”, “Vices & Virtues”, and “Shattered”.
All but three of the album’s songs are originals – “(F)Lannigan’s Ball”, “Fairmount Hill”, and “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” are warped arrangements of the traditional “Lannigan’s Ball”, “Spancil Hill”, and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” with new lyrics by the band. I’ve always preferred when the Murphys twist traditional tunes – such as their awesome version of “Rocky Road To Dublin”.
Spider Stacy of The Pogues and Ronnie Drew from The Dubliners lend their voices to “(F)Lannigan’s Ball”, which was recorded in Dublin. “Fairmont Hill” is the calmest moment on the album, but the track keeps a firm grasp on the Murphy’s trademark growl while taking on a sea chantey rhythm. “Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya” is the most affecting piece, as the Murphys strip off the genteel sentimentality of the traditional war hymn and paint it over with the harshness of reality.