Flogging Molly’s fifth studio album just dropped, and it’s not quite what I expected.
It starts well. The title track is a good example of what I like to call ‘fiddlepunk’ but wikipedia informs me is more properly termed Celtic Punk. Classic Flogging Molly, in other words: punk drum-lines, heavy guitars, some Celtic fiddle to fill in the blanks, and sea shanties. Yes, sea shanties.
But the irony of it all is that Speed of Darkness, otherwise, doesn’t have a whole lot of speed about it.
There are certainly a few up-tempo tracks on display – the (somewhat clumsily) polemical “Revolution”, “Saints & Sinners”, and, once it gets started, “Oliver Boy”. But Speed is generally a slower, more reflective album – more “Float” than “Paddy’s Lament”.
It’s not a bad direction for the band (indeed, it’s not even that new; it’s just that previous albums have been more fast than slow and this is the opposite). And it’s always good to shake things up a bit. Still, I came in expecting a little more in the way of punk energy, and I think this album demonstrates that Flogging Molly are at their best when they’re loud.
The good news is that I like Speed more with every listen. I’m not sure it really has any stand-out oh-wow tracks, but it fits together well as an album. And I like that “Saints & Sinners” was included in both electric and acoustic variants, because Flogging Molly are excellent unplugged.
It’s not a bad album. Flogging Molly fans will probably enjoy it, as will some listeners for whom punk is too loud, too driving.
But it’s probably not the best introduction to the band. This is:
Three bricks through a window.