On their ninth release since forming in 1996, Alkaline Trio are ready to show that they’re back in full force. While vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba has had time away performing duel duties in legendary pop punk group blink-182 (in replacement on Tom Delonge) he hasn’t been shy when addressing the status of the latest installment in the Alkaline Trio saga. Five years since their last album ‘My Shame is True’ their new album provides eagerly-awaiting fans a sense of closure knowing that the band is back and better than ever!
Title track Is This Thing Cused? opened with a bellowing guitar tune, with piano played over it. Vocalist Matt Skiba provides that unique voice that we all know and love, while belting out the lyrics over the punk-rock sound produced. Solid but quick opening tune to kick it off. Tempo was risen with the second track titled Blackbird which sounded like what blink-182 fans wanted from the 2016 release ‘California.’ Very reminiscent sound from early 2000’s punk crossed with late sounds from The Living End. A simply amazing follow up to the opener.
With a bass line intro twisting and turning with Matts vocals Demon and Division gave us a story with a song, providing us quite the happy feeling musically but gave a sense of mystery too. Hurrying into Little Help it felt like i was running from a bank heist after stealing millions, with a massive smile on my face. The tune was face and reminded me of certain tunes from punk legends Rancid. A story about getting high but in the punkiest way you could. This album wasn’t laying off the tempo of the songs as I Can’t Believe was evident of that. A strong build throughout with the mix off all instruments and vocals in perfect harmony. A psychedelic guitar virtuoso hit mid way through the song as Matt yelled “Someone to hold on to.” With nothing bad from the album so far this was sure to continue in high order and praise would be sure to follow.
Without a doubt my favourite track on the album so far Sweet Vampires was everything i’ve wanted for the last five years from Alkaline Trio. From the guitar riffs, querky bass lines and bouncy punk filled drums, it provided the greats of a classic Alkaline Trio song. Pale Blue Ribbon entered a realm of anthemic punk songs, with a similar feel to the bands second album in a whole ‘Maybe I’ll Catch Fire.’ Full of pace and vocal strength, the quick two minute punk banger was wholesome and sleek. Echoing guitar pushed waves to start, with Matt bringing a Fall Out Boy-esque sound to Goodbye Fire Island. Definitely a crowd pleaser and sure to be a fan favourite as it gives the crowd proper build up moments and back and forth moments where you can tell the crowd will be involved.
Slowing it down a bit, Stay portrayed a love/hate relationship or break up of sorts lyrically with a very Counting Crows feel to how it was sung with the guitar sound. A strong contender for love story gone wrong (but sung in the best way possible). This song was nothing short of great, no questions asked. Another anthem style song with a changing tempo like Heart Attacks (pun on the song title), the song was a back and forth between both vocalists Matt and Dan Andriano. An element of peril added to the song gave it a real sense of emergency every time the tempo changed in the song.
Worn So Thin came in with raw grit, a quick yell and a boost of drums. Heavy hitting with the meaning behind the song, with the apologies being too consistent and wearing thin on the other person. A range of different vocals from Dan and Matt gave it yet another fresh feeling to the band. At the back end of the album Throw Me to the Lions talks about space, despair and dreams potentially bugging someone. “Anything but silence” is a strong lyric sung by Matt Skiba, providing a real feeling of anguish and desperation. Strong emotional connection is definitely there within the song from start to finish.
Krystalline closes out what has been an amazing album, with a consistant strum of the guitar, Matt telling a story about a a potential love interest in the past. This song is one of the strongest songs on the album even though it is played acoustically, with raw emotion portayed very well.
Overall this album has the best combination of raw feelings and an emotional rollercoaster through love, despair, space and alienation. The band, even after a five year wait, has produced what is in my eyes, album of the year. Not one bad song throughout the album and they’ve managed to keep the element that is Alkaline Trio alive.
Pre-Order ‘Is This Thing Cursed’, out August 31st via Epitaph Records, HERE!