DRUMPICKS Flogging Mollyview image
SIDE ONE DUMMY
Raise ye pints, lads. “Tis another raucous folk-punker from Flogging Molly. Only this one’s a wee bit more than that.
The L.A.-based journeyman septet’s fourth studio release, Float, brings all the nose-busting, pint-chugging, alley-pissing, man-hugging pub-punk glory they’re known for while also revealing a new level of musical maturity that rises above the flying sweat and stale bar smoke.
Flogging Molly is essentially a punk band. A punk band significantly altered/bolstered by traditional folk instrumentation – fiddle, accordion, mandolin- and the thick Irish sensibilities of founder/frontman Dave King. They’re serious road warriors – constantly infecting various corners of the world with their poignant live debauchery – and Float should bring even more fans to their cult following.
The album opens as expected, with two rowdy Irish thumpers: “Requiem For A Dying Song” and “Paddy’s Lament,” before taking a somewhat drastic yet welcomed turn with its title track. “Float” starts as a downtrodden acoustic guitar folk song that slowly builds – deliciously builds – into a dense, dark stomp laden with metaphoric imagery. The band’s newfound maturity is literally screamed from the rooftops when King belts, “I’m a ripe old age/Just doing the best I can.”
“You won’t Make A Fool Out Of Me” brings us back to the cut-time party anthems but retains the dark lyrical substance that separates Molly’s sound from the chug-n-fluff frat-rock of other Irish punksters (see Dropkick Murphys). Drummer George Schwindt’s simple, creative hiccup fill at 1:39 is, alone, worth purchasing the track for.
In fact, Schwindt shines throughout Float, frequently showcasing his own impressive musical maturity. He’s long proven his speed and power within all the bouncy double-time beats and quick Celtic snare marches that are such a large part of this music, but he stretches more here, even infusing rock licks into songs like “Lightning storm” and “On The Back Of A Broken Dream.”
Another standout moment for Schwindt is his busy beat on “Punch Drunk Grinning Soul.” Heavy grace notes dance through the verses before opening up into big chorus impacts. He closes the song with machine gin hits, only his machine gun somehow manages to bounce. Tricky.
The album then jumps into “Man With No Country” – with its almost classic metal electric guitar riffs – before sliding into the rich, drippy ballad, “The Story So Far.” A tasteful, singable, slow rocker that’s about as far from punk as possible and again builds slowly and delectably, it’s a great song to close out the record.
With Float, Flogging Molly seems to have accomplished the near impossible: becoming more accessible without dissing their punk roots. These tracks are strong enough to stand on their own, meaning you don’t need 43 pints of Guinness and a half a bottle of Jameson to truly “get” what they’re trying to accomplish. We all get older, only some get better. Flogging Molly has done both.