PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Flogging Molly: Speed of Darkness

A few stylistic curveballs and lyrics inspired by the collapsed US economy make Speed of Darkness another strong release from the Irish-punk stalwarts.


Flogging Molly

Speed of Darkness

Label: Thirty Tigers
US Release Date: 2011-05-31
UK Release Date: 2011-05-30
Amazon
iTunes

Flogging Molly's mixture of punk rock and traditional Irish music has always lent itself to songs about the struggles of working-class people. Frontman Dave King's lyrics trade in equal parts hope and misery, although hope usually wins out. The band's last studio album, Float, was recorded in Ireland and many of the songs were specifically concerned with that country. By the time the band finished their touring cycle for the album, though, the economy in the United States had collapsed. King and his wife, the band's fiddler and pennywhistle player Bridget Regan, live in Detroit, a city that was already in rough shape before the autumn of 2008. So it's no surprise that much of Speed of Darkness is particularly concerned with the state of America. King has been writing songs about these sort of conditions for a decade, and sadly, the rest of the country has reluctantly had to come around to his point of view.

Musically, Speed of Darkness is slightly tweaked from the band's norm. Flogging Molly have occasionally stretched away from their Pogues-inspired Irish-punk template over the years, but this album is the most rock-based they've ever written. The guitars seem crunchier and a lot of the songs are genuinely mid-tempo. That's unusual for a band that generally has two speeds; slow and easy or as fast as possible. Not that you'd know it from the album's opener, the title track. "Speed of Darkness" begins with 35 seconds of gradually increasing guitar noise before exploding into a breakneck punk rocker, buttressed as always by Regan's fiddle, Matt Hensley's accordion, and Bob Schmidt's banjo. Second song "Revolution" starts to dig in lyrically with King's themes for the album: "I spent 27 years in this factory / Now the boss man says 'Hey, you're not what we need' / The penguins in the suits they know nothing but greed / It's a solitary life when you've mouths to feed / But who cares about us?" Musically, the song is a straightforward pop-punk track, with only Regan's fiddle audible over all the guitars. A little later, "Don't Shut 'em Down", with its unison quarter-note chorus, sounds like King has pulled out his old Social Distortion records for inspiration.

Elsewhere, the minor change in style pays off in spades. "The Power's Out" is a slow, sparsely-arranged stomper that relies largely on thumping kick drum and Celtic-style strumming on a heavily distorted guitar. When the full band comes in, it enhances King's impassioned delivery and makes up for the somewhat overwrought lyrics like "From the town of Detroit where my job is secure / Secure in the fact that it's gone for good". Late in the album, "The Cradle of Humankind" is a traditional piano ballad that smartly uses the fiddle and accordion to enhance the piano, an instrument the band hasn't used much over the years. Speaking of instruments the band doesn't often use, the gently rolling "A Prayer for Me in Silence" is a duet with Bridget Regan singing the verses and King on the choruses. Regan has a wonderful, soft singing voice, and it's a great contrast to King's gruff style. After hearing this song, it's a wonder that the band doesn't utilize her more as a singer.

Flogging Molly has long been an idiosyncratic band that doesn't quite fit in with the punk crowd they started with, or the indie-rock and Americana styles that have popped up around them in the past decade. But they've developed their audience by sticking to their own sound, so they know better than to mess with it too much. Songs like the rousing "Saints and Sinners" and the quiet "So Sail On" are solid additions to their catalog that fit right in with their established formula. Still, it's the songs where King and the band take chances that keep Speed of Darkness interesting. These curveballs make the album another strong addition to the Flogging Molly catalog and keep them from getting stuck in a rut.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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