no-cover

Alkaline Trio – [Album]

Like
271
0
Saturday, 27 August 2011

Now fifteen years after the band first formed and seven albums after they released Goddamnit and showed listeners that (unlike so many other forms of pop music) punk rock could be dark without being dirge-y, Alkaline Trio has already made an indelible mark on punk, but nothing lasts forever. That isn't meant to sound like critical commentary, it's just common sense; because their music is an inherently youthful form, punk musicians can only stick to one artistic base for so long before the contrast between age (or the number of visible grey hairs in their proverbial mohawks) and sound becomes noticeable, and eventually rather mawkish. Over the last couple of years particularly, many bands (including Exene Cervenka, Chuck Ragan and Dropkick Murphys) have elected to “update” themselves by turning to folk and acoustic instruments but, on their eighth studio album, Alkaline Trio has worked out a way to start changing without leaving their fans high and dry; on Damnesia, Alkaline Trio has picked through their catalogue and re-recorded some of their best songs in acoustic format to show fans how this new idea might work, and also included two new songs to start them off on this new track.

It is worth saying that, while Damnesia isn't the single most solid Alkaline Trio album in creation, it certainly does have its charms. Lightening up significantly from the moment “Calling All Skeletons” leads the record off, singer Matt Skiba makes the most of the sparer arrangements that recording acoustically requires and really focuses on providing some lush and soulful vocal melodies to give listeners a new kind of thrill. Here, Skiba really wears his heart on his sleeve as lines like “Now the time has come, I just wish I could erase/All the damage done to your name and your keepsakes” promise to really pounce on listeners, and the hard slashing on his acoustic guitar creates a fantastically absorbing sense of drama. This trend continues through “Nose Over Tail,” which really accentuates the romantic theme of the song as Skiba lets his voice crack just a little during the “You're saving me” line in the chorus and the arpeggiated guitar adds a bit more hopeful hopelessness to the song as a whole. The band gets a little braver and beefs up the arrangements with the bit confidence built through those two successes, and “This Could Be Love” really offers a compelling synthesis of Alkaline Trio's old ideas into this new form as effects get stacked onto drums to create a bit of harrowing eeriness bolstered by the recurring piano figure which sounds like it could have been lifted out of the score to any of the original (read: not Rob Zombie's) Halloween movies. Of course, as interesting as it is, most of Damnesia is a ramp up to the two new songs on the album, “Olde English 800” and “I Remember A Rooftop,” designed to illustrate the avenue that Alkaline Trio will likely angle themselves down on future releases but the problem is that only half of them are straight-faced; “Olde English 800” is just a fluffy advertisement for budget brand beer, and doesn't really do anything other than strum comically and spell the name of the brew effectively, but “I Remember A Rooftop” fumbles toward former songwriting powers. On “I Remember A Rooftop,” Alkaline Trio goes relies on the Chuck Ragan paradigm of scruffy, scrappy guitars and spare arrangements to fall into a sort of backwoods vibe which works, but also needs more development; stacked against the excellent reworkings done elsewhere on the album, “I Remember A Rooftop” – the stronger of the two new songs on Damnesia – still feels tossed off.

So how should fans feel about this new development that Alkaline Trio has undertaken? Well, kudos should go to the band for showing fans what they're doing and how it could work with Damnesia and not simply tossing them in to sink or swim on their own, but it's also pretty clear that the band has yet to work all the creases out of this idea. It could work – it might even be great on future releases – but Damnesia is definitely a work in progress and we'll really only know how good it could be by measuring whatever comes next against this album.

Artist:

www.alkalinetrio.com/
www.myspace.com/alkalinetrio
www.facebook.com/alkalinetrio
www.twitter.com/alkaline_trio

Album:

Damnesia
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

no-cover

Alkaline Trio – [Album]

Like
0
0
Friday, 19 February 2010

It would be difficult to argue that the single most overused metaphor in rock n' roll over the last fifty years hasn't been the one which contends that “love is a drug.” There aren't many bands that haven't dabbled with the idea to varying degrees and with varying degrees of success, but it has become so common now that it's almost a soft option; as is the case with the concepts of both love and drugs, anyone can do it because most everyone has done both and can draw their own parallels – even if they're pretty much the same as everyone else's. That said, it won't come as a surprise that Alkaline Trio has elected to try its' collective hand at harvesting some old chestnuts on This Addiction, but what comes as an absolute shock is the fact that the band has managed to spin it so that it sounds fresh and new again; more surprising still, they do it with a new pop-punk energy that they've never before shown off.

The difference in approach is evident from the very beginning as Alkaline Trio hits the ground running with the album's title track. Using thick and propulsive power chords similar to those that Green Day used to use when they were winning hearts with Dookie, Alkaline Trio appears re-energized with the move to their own label made and the pressure of corporate endorsement (read: major label stress) removed, but there's a whole lot more at work here than just revelling in new scenery. Listen closely and it becomes apparent that Alkaline Trio has cut the pop with some tongue-in-cheek wordplayand uniquely AT undertones that recall the aforementioned chestnut of a metaphor, but the band has also made it vivid and tangible to the point of being incredibly unnerving. Sure – love might be a drug and so on, but that idea pales in comparison to, “Well you hit me just like heroin/I feel you coursing through my veins/I tried once to kick this addiction/I swear I'll never kick again, won't ever kick again, no.”

There has been lip service to love being a drug, and then there's agonizing over it while sitting on the floor surrounded by the works and paraphernalia.

From there, the band digs deeper into their new favorite metaphor and finds even more withdrawals that will guarantee to eat them whole from the inside out. Songs like “Dine, Dine My Darling” (where singer Matt Skiba figures he could, “Get a couple more days, but the drugs are lame”), “Lead Poisoning” (“I climbed out limbless to the ledge/To bask in my last true regret”), “Dead On The Floor” (“I'm glad that you came, no regret and no shame/As I'm lying here dead on the floor”) and “American Scream” (“And that's where they found me, in the cemetary/A smoking gun in my hand, now I'm damned for all the land of the free”) all paint a fairly gruesome portrait of the end of a relationship so many pop punkers say they went through but, unlike those other bands that may have said they wanted to die, Alkaline Trio actually seems to want to – and appears that they be making some ground to that end.

In the end as “Fine” fades and leaves listeners with the belief that precisely nothing in the world will actually be that way, listeners are left feeling incredibly energized (it's really, really good and upbeat punk music) but also can't help but feel a little ashamed that they enjoyed this torturous enactment. That's the genius of This Addiction: if all a listener is paying attention to is the music, they'll be elated; if all they're hearing is the lyrics, they may feel compelled to check the obituaries for Matt Skiba's name and, if they're listening to both, they won't know how to react. That indecision is a victory unlike any Alkaline Trio has enjoyed before; the band has managed to fuck with its' listeners so perfectly on This Addiction and left them uncertain if they want to laugh or cry.

Artist:

www.alkalinetrio.com/

www.myspace.com/alkalinetrio

Album:

This Addiction
comes out on February 23, 2010 through Heart & Skull/Epitaph on February 23, 2010. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of
avatar
wpDiscuz