ALBUM REVIEW: Finnegan’s Hell – Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class (Wild Kingdom Records)
Celtic punk can be a bit of saturated scene at times, and you’ve got to be good to stand out from the crowd.
Finnegan’s Hell, formed in Sweden in 2010, are regarded as one the most exciting bands to emerge in the scene for some time.
They may not be as well known as the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, Blood Or Whiskey, or The Mahones, but they are gaining quite a reputation on the European scene.
Listening to this third album, it’s easy to see why. The six-piece mix Irish-flavoured drinking anthems with hillbilly country, folk rock and a dash of metal, which all makes for a diverse listening experience.
They’ve steadily grown their fanbase since released their debut album, Drunk, Sick And Blue, in 2014, and the follow-up Life And Death in 2018, and are the driving force behind what the press have called “The New Wave of Swedish Celtic Punk’.
This is their best album to date, full of songs about life, death and drinking, and it’s dedicated to the thirsty Irish poets Oscar Wilde (whose famous quote gives it its name) and Shane MacGowan, as well as Swedish bard Carl Michael Bellman.
Their sound is based around the core of guitar, bass and drums, but there’s plenty of traditional instrumentation too, with lots of their songs containing banjo, accordion and tin whistle
As with all the bands in this genre, the influence of the undisputed kings of the genre, The Pogues, is obvious, and the title track, which opens the album, is certainly the sort of rousing call-to-arms you could imagine them singing.
Six Feet Under and the rollicking Whiskey, Rum, Gin and Wine are also about the perils of alcohol, both moving along at a fair old pace,
The Promised Land is about the false promises made to immigrants who flocked to America, while Friends And Foes addresses the perils of drink and drugs.
King Of The Bar is a more typically upbeat tune about living life for now, urging: “Fetch me a drink and a Cuban cigar, take a good look at the king of the bar, join me to celebrate, tomorrow could be too late.”
The Last Dance and Tokyo Town are about encounters with unforgettable ladies, with the former reminding me a lot of The Pogues’ Turkish Song Of The Damned, and Parasite is a bitter little song about being rinsed by your ex.
The closing When I’m Dead offers a welcome change of pace, as it’s a lament which closes the album on a more downbeat note. All in all, if you like any of those bands mentioned earlier, this is definitely an album worth checking out. 7/10.