Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style

Celtic Punk band delves into the world of the concept album and emerges with a riveting story of love, war, and family.

Dropkick Murphys

Going Out in Style

Label: Born & Bred
US Release Date: 2011-03-01
UK Release Date: 2011-02-28
Artist Website

If you like Dropkick Murphys, you’re going to like Going Out in Style. Everything that you’ve grown to know and love over the years from the Celtic punk band is present on this latest installment – there are bagpipes, mandolins, banjos, accordions, tin whistles, and all the gang vocals you could pack into one album. No, you won’t find anything particularly new or groundbreaking on Going Out in Style, but you will find a band who has been continually honing in on their own sound over the course of the past decade-and-a-half and sounds as comfortable and well-rounded in their own element as anyone else in the punk scene.

The first thing you need to know about Going Out in Style is that it is a concept album. The fictional character Cornelius Larkin is just the kind of man you would expect to find on a Dropkick Murphys release: a rough-around-the-edges working-class Irish immigrant who predictably can hold his liquor and knows his way around a good old fashioned brawl. Over the course of the album, we hear stories of his days at war, his search for love, and the good times he’s spent with his family and friends. The stories feel so real and honest, you’d almost think that Cornelius is an actual buddy of the band – they even went so far as to include an obituary in the linear notes of the album. It’s clear that this is more than just a collection of songs to Dropkick Murphys; it feels much closer to being their own stories and the stories of their families.

The album starts off with a bang in the form of “Hang ‘Em High”, an ode to war in which Cornelius remembers the struggles of the battlefield. You can almost see the dirt on his unshaven face and the weapon clutched in his rough, chapped hands as the band chants “We waited together for the cowards to come / Outgunned and outnumbered but we wouldn’t run / No mercy, no quarter, they’ll pay for their sins / Now lower the cannons, the battle begins!” Although the subject matter repeats itself from time to time, the flow of the album is mostly seamless as the band transitions through barn burners such as “Memorial Day” and “Sunday Hardcore Matinee” to softer songs like “Broken Hymns” and “1953”.

Along with foot stomping, fist pumping, sing-alongs, we’re given the added treat of several notable guest appearances along the way. The album’s title track features vocals from Chris Cheney of The Living End, actor/comedian Lenny Clarke, and NOFX singer Fat Mike, and wait – is that The Boss singing a verse on “Peg o’ My Heart”? Why yes, it is. The peppy love song is one of the more enjoyable tracks on the album, made only better with the inclusion of Springsteen.

In order for a concept album such as this to succeed, we need to have reason to care about the character. Dropkick Murphys have the added challenge of reconciling this idea into a genre that has rarely seen concept albums orchestrated well. Fortunately for the band, they’re able to communicate their stories with ease, and given their background, Cornelius becomes immediately believable and relatable to the listener. Couple that with the band’s continued knack of pulling off their trademark sound, and it's clear that Dropkick Murphys have crafted a great story and a very fun album. Though it may not be remembered as their greatest work, Going Out in Style is a risk the band needed to take, and the payoff is well worth it.






Rodd Rathjen Talks About His Film About Modern Slavery, 'Buoyancy'

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.