As a thirty-something who grew up in (and still lives in) the Boston suburbs, I feel like I grew up with the Ducky Boys as they were cutting their teeth in a scene that included bands like the Pinkerton Thugs, the Bruisers, Kicked In The Head, Bid D & The Kids Table, Drexel, Blod For Blood, etc. Their green vinyl split 7-inch with the Mike McColgan-era Dropkicks remains one of the highlights of my personal collection.
Time has treated some of those 1990s Boston punk bands better than others. The Dropkick Murphys have changed their sound (and their lineup) and catapulted in to the mainstream, the McColgan-led Street Dogs have developed a solid fanbase of their own with their tried-and-true street punk recipe.
The Ducky Boys have occupied the next rung down on the ladder in terms of commercial success. They disappeared altogether for some time, but in “Chasing The Ghost,” they’ve now put out three solid street-punk albums of their own in the last decade and seem to have no intentions of giving up the proverbial ghost any time soon.
Social Distortion-esque rock-inspired street punk is what the Ducky Boys do best. “Chasing The Ghost” kicks of with “New Chapter,” an instant callback to those sweaty, mid-90s rec center shows. “Nobody’s Home” follows with a little less street swagger but the same “fuck you and the world” attitude. “Goodbye & Good Luck” and “The Sweetest Girl” are a little more mid-tempo but are tight, well-crafted songs in their own right.
Frontman “Mahk” Lind certainly wears his heart on his sleeve. Much of the material on “Chasing The Ghost” finds Lind looking in the mirror as he weaves his personal triumphs and tragedies in and out of his storytelling. He alternates between offering up his personal, dark experiences, insight on where he finds his own strength (which sounds mostly like his significant other), and attempting to give those who may have once been in his shoes a little hope that things get better in the future. Lind’s lyrics and gravelly, at times shaky voice work better with the material that covers his own dark experiences, but you’ve got to give him credit for trying to branch out and reflect a little positivity.
The main problem with “Chasing The Ghost” is that it feels long. Seventeen songs is a lot, especially when a fair number of them hover at or above the three-minute mark. There aren’t really any songs in particular that weigh down the album, but there is an awful lot of “sameness.” “I Guess I’m Broken” and “Getting Better,” which appear in that order in the first third of the album, are shaped cut from the same mold and lack any real hook or distinct bridge to separate them. “Angel Like You” is sweet in its sentiment, but the chorus gets a little too repetitive, making the song feel longer than it is.
“Medicine” is a bit more of a Johnny Cash-style roadhouse rambler of a song. Album closer “There’s Always Another Way” is a little too down-tempo, and suffers as a result. A stripped-down acoustic accompaniment would have suited the lyrics better and provided additional depth to the hopeful message.
“Chasing the Ghost” is a good album; it certainly brought back some fun memories to listen to, and its stronger moments rank up their with the finer moments on “Dark Days” or on the debut Sinners & Saints album. A “less is more” approach, however, may have ultimately done volumes toward making “Chasing The Ghost” a truly solid release.