Alkaline Trio

Agony & Irony

Written by: PP on 22/07/2008 03:36:23

Ladies and gentlemen, Alkaline Trio are back after their \"Crimson\" slip up from a few years ago. But anyone who listened to their teaser EP carrying the same title as \"Agony & Irony\" was probably expecting that anyway. All three songs on the EP signaled a return to the band\'s earlier sound, where the soundscapes were kept tighter together, the melodies were brighter, faster and, frankly, much more melodic. So the newer Trio fans of \"Good Mourning\" and \"Crimson\" expecting more of the same from the band are likely to be disappointed while the older fans are either flocking back to the band or - in the more likely scenario - once again becoming the more vocal part of the band\'s fanbase. The reasoning behind this logic is that despite this review (and my past reviews of this band) will come across as slightly hostile to \"Crimson\" and \"Good Mourning\", I\'m not afraid to admit that they were still good albums - we were all still there behind the band despite thrown back a bit. It\'s just that everything else up to this point had been damn near 10/10 all the way.

Irrelevant introduction aside, the short review of \"Agony & Irony\" is that it\'s another very good melodic punk rock album from a band that seems to be able to do no wrong in my eyes. The long review? Read on. Three of the songs were already on the EP so I won\'t talk about them (check out the EP review instead).

The album kicks off with \"Calling All Skeletons\", a perfect way to tell \"From Here To Infirmary\" fans \'we are back in form guys\'. The colossal empty space has been removed from their sound again, resulting in a tighter guitar/vocal interplay, which has always been the band\'s absolute strength. How the punk gods Skiba & co are able to constantly write infectious choruses that stick to your mind for weeks is unfathomable to us human beings. It tells a story when the weakest song on the record, the \"Crimson\" sounding \"Over And Out\" ballad still has a chorus better than 99% of bands are writing today.

Granted, Alkaline Trio have never been the ones to experiment all too much with their sound, that\'s mostly been left to the producers with varying results. But do you really care when the band consistently writes songs like \"I Found Away\", which possesses all the best traits of Alkaline Trio and then some: the foreshadowing calm before the storm, the explosive chorus (this time with a disco punk beat), the middle bit with fantastically dark lyrics delivered with such joyous passion, and overall ability to keep your singing along for weeks to come? I know I don\'t, for sure.

Speaking of lyrics, just tune into \"Love Love Kiss Kiss\" for a lyrically desperate slow anthem, which despite the dark topic, still puts the image of Skiba & Adriano grinning to your mind through the use of melodic vocals. This song has some \"Fuck You Aurora\" potential, kind of like \"Live Young, Die Fast\" that follows later on the record. \"Do You Wanna Know\" is similarly medium paced (like much of the album, in fact), but it contains the quirky vocal pitch and pace switch from verse to chorus that made so many of their songs classics back in the day.

To tie the loose ends together a bit, \"Agony & Irony\" sees the band take a few steps back towards their old sound, but in doing so they don\'t completely scratch out their recent musical evolution. The songs are bright again - the way we always liked them to be - but in most cases lack the same energetic speed and punk rock riffing (for a taster of the old speed, check out \"Armageddon\" or \"Clavicle\"). While Alkaline Trio have always varied with speed on their albums, they\'ve never quite had this many slow songs as here and on their last album. Personally, I love both styles of the band, but I suspect this was because the slow ballads were left as the minority on most of their records before. This is why \"Agony & Irony\" isn\'t \"From Here to Infirmary\", \"Goddammit\", \"Maybe I\'ll Catch Fire\" or even \"Alkaline Trio\". It\'s better than \"Crimson\" by a boatload whilst being quite equal with \"Good Mourning\" - in other words still not in the band\'s best material, but pretty close. And in Alkaline Trio\'s case, \"pretty close\" means pretty fucking good still.


Download: Into The Night, Love Love Kiss Kiss, Calling All Skeletons
For the fans of: Bayside, GOB, The Bouncing Souls
Listen: Myspace

Release date 01.07.2008
Epic Records

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