While pop/rock's pantheon of concept characters is topped by incredible and outlandish characters like Ziggy Stardust and Tommy, the truth is that Cornelius Larkin -- war veteran, working-class hero, and the fictional centerpiece of Dropkick Murphys' seventh studio album, Going Out in Style -- would likely outfight and outdrink them. A concept album, the record tells the story of the life, love, and death of a rough-and-tumble Irish immigrant, even going so far as to include an obituary in the liner notes. Musically, the album doesn’t stray far from the sound the band has developed over the years, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. With their fusion of Celtic and punk, Dropkick Murphys have set themselves far enough apart from the bulk of punk rock that changing anything would feel disingenuous. Instead, the band freshens things up with the bold (and rare) choice of making a punk rock concept album. This narrative element really works for Dropkick Murphys, adding another layer of thematic unity that complements their sonic vision wonderfully. Going Out in Style also finds the band pulling out all the stops with a handful of guests lending their vocals to the band's freewheeling anthems. Comedian and Rescue Me cast member Lenny Clarke drops in on “Going Out in Style” along with NOFX’s Fat Mike and the Living End’s Chris Cheney. The most surprising guest, however, arrives on “Peg o’ My Heart,” where the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, shows up to deliver a verse. With its combination of driving Celtic punk and strong narrative, Going Out in Style finds Dropkick Murphys succeeding on multiple levels, delivering an album that’s not only fun to pump your fists and sing along to, but also one that rewards repeated listens with its storytelling, making it an album that’s just as fun through headphones as it is when played at maximum volume in the car.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney