Two decades into their career, Los Angeles folk-punk stalwarts Flogging Molly maintain a fiery presence, certainly on-stage, but also in the studio as they deliver their sixth LP, Life Is Good. Under the stewardship of leader Dave King, the band's marriage of Irish folk melodies and raucous punk muscle has won them a hardcore and widespread fan base. While their formula has remained relatively unchanged over the years, expectations have generally prevailed that King and his crew will deliver the goods via quality songwriting and spirited performance rather than radical reinvention. Such is the case with Life Is Good, a sturdily built and reliably rousing 12-song collection captained by Grammy-toting producer Joe Chiccarelli (U2, Beck). Opening with the relatively subdued "There's Nothing Left, Pt. 1," Flogging Molly take aim at an ominous unnamed (though probably obvious) world leader, singing "the devil has spoke and he's not very bright" over a lilting Irish fiddle, accordion, and whistle melody. "The Hand of John L. Sullivan" is a blazing barn burner in the band's signature tradition, and "Crushed [Hostile Nations]" is a slow-building wartime tale with a massive chorus that harkens back to King's heavy metal past as lead singer for L.A. rockers Fastway. Chiccarelli's production throughout is streamlined and clean, emphasizing the fist-pumping rock bits while letting the Celtic instrumentation pop out naturally. As a collection, there is plenty of range in tone and emotion as Flogging Molly both decry and celebrate the wild mess that, depending on one's outlook, does indeed make life good.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger