signed-and-sealed-in-bloodThis week's rhetorical question is about bands singing in faux Irish accents with traditional Celtic instruments, mixing it up with banjos, strings, pipes and punk rawk guitars. The query is: "Do we need 'em?" The quick answer is: "I'll get back to ya." From your perspective I know that's it's not really good enough so I'll spend the next 400 words so telling you how albums like this get to exist in the first place.

The Pogues popularised this sort of thing 30 years ago. The fact that Shane McGowan almost died for someone's sins (not mine) through alcohol poisoning on multiple occasions has never made much of an impression on me. You can sing your songs about dirty old towns until you win a Tidy Towns Award for all I care. Given the choice between rum, sodomy and the lash I'll pick the bottle of spirits every time. Just don't ask me to play the record. I've lived with the Irish, drunk with the Irish, communed at funerals with the Irish and told lots of jokes about the Irish. Hell, I'm even part Irish. I've just never wanted to sound like them, even after two dozen pints, and don't understand why you'd want to. Even on St Patrick's Day.

Why is this relevant? It's obvious that the Dropkick Murphys want to be Irish so badly that their records should come with a six pack of Guinness and a voucher for the buyer to be baptised in the Liffey River. It's a by-product of them growing up in Boston where every second person thinks they're the direct descendent of a Leprechaun. You too? (U2?) OK, that was a really bad pun. Throwing a dog that Bono like that truly is a low trick. But let's get on track.

This is album number eight for the DMs and the first thing to be said is that it sounds really good. It's raw enough but with melodies (and infernal bagpipes) high enough in the mix to be vaguely radio-friendly.

A word on those bagpipes: They and flutes are on my Shit List. "Highway To Hell" be damned (even if they were synthesized.) If I want to hear the sound of a fart imploding I'll put on "Metal Machine Music". Or "Lulu". (I'll put on "Lulu"? Did I just type that?) As for Jethro Tull and their signature instrument, well those prog rock tossers and the ibis-imitating Ian Anderson deserve to have reed instruments used to conduct colonoscopies on their collective arses. Pretentious shit does not get better with time. Flutes are a hallmark of such - except when used by The Rationals.

But back to the DMs and their songs, there's an Irish reel here and another Irish reel. In fact, there's enough Irish reels to make "Signed And Sealed In Blood" reely Irish (this wordplay isn't getting any better.) "The Season Is Upon Us" is a pithy Christmas song about dysfunctionality (hey, what's new.) Curiously, it's been released in Australia after Christmas, but I did say this band wanted to be Irish.

"Rose Tattoo" is the turd (alright, third, but that's how the Irish pronounce it) song on the record and is a bit of a sticker. Opener "The Boys Are Back" has nothing to do with Phil Lynott and does its best to sound like a football hooligan anthem (with some degree of success.) The rest of the tunes rush past and I'm bad on faces, let alone names.

If you hadn't guessed by now, I'm not the right person to review this. Even so, it's a more than tolerable listen. Maybe better with a bottle of Jameson's nearby. You, on the other hand, might be all over this like a starving Irishman sizing up a pound of potatoes during a famine. You might get all misty-eyed over this stuff. You may even think Sinead O'Connor is relatively well adjusted - but that's a long shot. If so, add a beer-and-a-half to my rating. Seeing we're talking about a band from Beantown, make it a Samuel Adams.