Spice It Up! – Firkin

Spice It Up is the first full-length album from Hungarian folk-punks Firkin since 2018’s We Are the Ones. I think that album is a phenomenally inspired traditional folk-punk party album, and I waited many years for the next offering from the band. Apparently I waited so long that I stopped looking actively, because I totally missed that Spice It Up was released earlier this year.

It’s clear from the first songs that this album has a different energy compared to its predecessor. A bit more serious and grown up, trading in some of that party vibe for a more classic folk-punk sound. And I think some of Firkins DNA gets lost a bit.

On the second track they sound so much like The Real McKenzies that I almost have to pick up my phone and check if I’m listening to the right album. Overall the songs on here are not bad, it’s solid folk-punk, but I don’t really get hooked in the same way as the previous album. The lyrics are a combination of more traditional themes, mixed with a few booze and drinking tunes, as is pretty standard in the style. It doesn’t knock me off my feet but fits well with the sound and delivery.

A cover of a traditional Irish piece on an album is almost mandatory in this genre, and on this one Finnegan’s Wake gets a new arrangement. I think that Firkin previously has hit just the right balance between tradition and punk-energy in their covers. Here I’m not totally as convinced. It starts in a different way musically, but ends up in a pretty standard folk-cover.

Spice It Up is not a bad day on the job for Firkin, I think it more boils down to my high expectations from previous material. Many bands would be stoked to be able to deliver this kind of folk-punk, but I can’t help but feel that some of the Firkin-style has been lost here. A little bit more skewed towards traditional with punk influences rather than the other way around, a bit more mature and with a little bit less energy and fun. I get the feeling that the material didn’t come as easy on this one, perhaps a reason why it’s been a while between albums. I’ve got no doubts they’re still a banging live act though.