The social and political awareness that drives Flogging Molly's music is never more prominent than on their new release Life Is Good - a strikingly powerful album that arrives at a strikingly key time. The sixth studio album by the renowned Celtic-punk rockers now in their 20th year is mature, well crafted, equally polished and almost aggressively topical. It is filled with rousing songs that are timeless in their sentiment, but directly related to today's most pressing concerns: Politics, the economy, unemployment, planned boomtowns gone bust, immigration policies gone awry, and much more.
For singer and lyricist Dave King, it may be the lyrical couplet contained within the surging "Reptiles (We Woke Up") that points toward the album's central theme. "We woke up," sings King, "And we won't fall back asleep." Life Is Good thus serves as a wake-up call to those who have simply stood by while far-reaching political decisions were made that had serious impact on them. And, significantly, it also serves as notice that the time for action is now.
Imagery abounds on Life Is Good, and one of the most memorable images might be found in "Adamstown," the saga of a planned community west of Dublin that came to a halt in mid-construction a decade ago when the Irish economy crashed - and left little more than a ghost town in its place. Thematically, hope and inspiration are a major part of "The Hand of John L. Sullivan," a rollicking track about the legendary "Boston Strong Boy" who was the first ever heavyweight champion of gloved boxing from 1882-1892.
And what's uniquely distinctive about Life is Good, is that the gravity and weight of these themes never overshadow the sheer fun and exuberance felt in each song. Recorded in Ireland and produced by multiple Grammy Award winner Joe Chiccarelli (U2, the White Stripes, Beck), Life Is Good is by any measure a formidable return from Flogging Molly.