‘The most important album of the year, if not the decade,’ declares Alternative Press. ‘Float,’ Flogging Molly’s newest album, has finally hit the shelves much to the joy of the band’s rabid Guinness-swigging fans.
Flogging Molly is widely known more for incorporating Celtic sounds and styles into its music than for its punk. Its songs have a reputation for being fast-paced and uplifting while retaining a punk feeling, and ‘Float’ does not disappoint. However, this album marks a significant bold addition to its style that you’ll notice as soon as you hit the second song.
First on the track list is ‘Requiem for a Dying Song,’ which starts by belting out a healthy mix of the band’s instruments, most notably Matt Hensley’s bittersweet accordion and Bridget Reagan’s tin whistle. The song is probably the sunniest and most uplifting one on the entire album, though you wouldn’t know it by its lyrics alone. The topic of the lyrics is similar to the idea of the fan-favorite ‘Tobacco Island.’ The first song tapers off on Dennis Casey’s electric guitar, which swirls back up to form the intro of ‘(No More) Paddy’s Lament.’ As the band forms a hard-hitting introduction focused on Casey’s guitar howling in the background and the sweet acrobatics of Reagan’s violin, you can hear someone mumble a cryptic rhyme that is explained in the lyrics book. The song transitions into a fast-paced, dark-toned rhythm that echoes epic and sorrowful tones thanks to Reagan’s violin and Hensley’s accordion.
‘Float,’ the album’s namesake, is a laid-back, apologetic tune that sighs about a man’s drunken reflection on a wasted life. It starts out with Dave King strumming on the acoustic guitar in a tired voice and Reagan quietly on the violin, then builds into a regretful yet smart rhythm thanks to heavy use of Reagan’s violin.
‘You Won’t Make a Fool Out of Me’ is the album’s only other real upbeat march and jumps right into it, a sunny defiance swirled mostly with the violin and accordion. Casey provides his famed energetic support on the electric guitar, helping Schwindt along as he gallops on the drums, and King keeps his voice full of Irish enthusiasm.
‘The Lightning Storm’ gives almost that exact feeling, a swift, seesawing rainy tune but with a slightly cheerful undertone. Casey provides heavy chords on his electric guitar and King preaches in steady, long syllables. ‘Punch Drunk Grinning Soul’ is probably the song that epitomizes the album the most with its vengeful, grieving, moderately-paced accusations and vows. Hensley’s accordion offers an ingenious instability to the music. The storm-is-brewing mood is unfortunately broken periodically by the hold-your-chin-high chorus, but King strains his voice at times in a new, soulful way that is sweet candy for the ears.
The album stumbles a little with ‘Us of Lesser Gods,’ a fast-and-slow jerky tune that relies on Schmidt’s mandolin and Hensley’s accordion. It’s a violent contrast to the rest of the album, and is even easier listening than ‘Float.’ Once George Schwindt adds in with the drums and Casey on the electric guitar, the song gets a little better. It also has the other members supporting on vocals at some points, which is always a nice treat to hear.
‘Between a Man and a Woman’ is a much-improved version of one of the band’s older songs. The quality is also much better because it was recorded in a studio and not at Molly Malone’s home. It’s a soulful composition with shades of helplessness as exemplified by the chorus, composed mainly of dulcet violin tones, King’s acoustic strumming and the accordion’s hollow notes. If you didn’t look at the lyrics though, you could mistake the tune for a love song.
‘From the Back of a Broken Dream’ has Reagan rolling out heavy violin notes padded with Hensley’s accordion while Casey beats a steady rhythm on his guitar. The song fluctuates between toe-tapping goodness and a quick, steady beat set by accordion and drums. You can’t help but feel warmed when listening to the chorus.
‘Man With No Country’ has a badass feel to it thanks to Nathen Maxwell’s intro on the bass guitar, the fat of the song composed of violin and accordion, and Casey’s heart pounding support on the electric guitar. King’s voice, coupled with the lyrics, successfully creates a dangerous got-nowhere-to-go feeling. Flo Mo veterans might notice Hensley plays similarly as he does in ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge.’
The album ends with ‘The Story So Far,’ a volatile track that could be the favorite or bane of the album due to its unusually slow, blues-like melody. You wouldn’t think a band could achieve a rainy blues song using an accordion and mandolin, as well as an acoustic guitar, but the band captures the feel perfectly. Reagan’s violin adds just the right amount of velvety support, and a Beatle’s-like serenade by the supporting band members comes as a sweet treat for the ears as King repeats the chorus at the end of the song.
The album’s different style stems from using Reagan and Hensley a lot more than normal, and while it may at times seem a bit overused, it hardly detracts from the album. Despite the new style