Alkaline Trio

Goddamnit (10th Anniversary Edition)

Written by: PP on 05/03/2008 02:58:25

"Crack my head open on your kitchen floor to prove you that I have brains".

A seminal lyric in the world of punk rock, taken from the seminal Alkaline Trio 1998 debut album "Goddamnit", the dearest album for every pre-"Crimson" fan of the band. It is the album that defined how melodramatic, melodic punk rock should sound. Its blissful mood left all prior punk releases at the time in its shadow (and it still does to an extent), as Matt Skiba, Dan Adriano and Glenn Porter (since replaced by Derek Grant) seemed to do no wrong moves on the record, writing one classic song after another. Today, we know that trend continued for five years and another three albums before the band released "Crimson", which is a whole another story. But this review isn't about one of those albums. This review is about one of the reasons this very magazine exists. This review is about the re-issue of "Goddamnit" - the best, most underrated melodic punk album ever recorded.

The album kicks off with "Cringe" and its classic lyric "Wide eyed / knee deep in surprise", wailed by the bands then-high school aged mastermind Matt Skiba. It was the first time (discounting their demo) that the punk world was introduced to his brilliant lyrical metaphorism about death and satanism. By looking closely through the gleeful sound of the instruments and Skiba's cheerful voice, you'll see how every song on the record deals with dark topics that you wouldn't be surprised to find on a gothic album. This has always been one of the major appeals of Alkaline Trio, their ability to discuss difficult issues in a manner that could almost be described as poetic, while still paradoxically keeping a sparkling mood vocally and instrumentally.

"Cop", the second song on the album, is vastly different from the album opener, relying more on vocal hooks than raw, melodic guitar work. And this is the second reason why Alkaline Trio are so cherished by their loyal fanbase; each and every song sounds remarkably different, the variance in tempo, pitch, tone and mood is massive between each songs. Take "San Francisco" for instance, a slow/medium tempo track which has long chords repetitions and silent vocals. It works just as well as the frantic "Nose Over Tail", from which this review's opening quote is borrowed from. Then you have the middle-of-the-line songs like "My Little Needle" that balance between the crunchy riffs and silent vocals, while songs like "Clavicle" crush the gas pedal to the floor in the truest punk rock manner.

But really, it doesn't matter how fast or slow Alkaline Trio decide to go on "Goddamnit". Every style works equally well and each song is equally great, making it impossible to pick a favorite from the record. Pop on "Southern Rock" and you'll have me singing along like the end of the world was about, or "As You Were" and I'll be leading the circle pit at the show. It simply doesn't matter. Even the acoustic slaps "Enjoy Your Day" and "Sorry About That" shine of the kind of songwriting brilliance I haven't seen any band in the genre show in many, many, many years now.

But lets return to the lyrics, because they really are among the best I've ever heard on record. Matt's dark lyrical universe is out of this world, and how he has been able to stuff the album so full of classic moments that I'd have to fill in the whole review to mention them all is incomprehensible to me. And since lyrics are such an important part of "Goddamnit", I feel like I have to throw out some of my favorite quotes from the record:

"Sing you to to sleep - a sleep you'll never wake from / sing you to coma so to speak"

"Trade in my bike for a shopping cart", both from "My Little Needle"

"Tough tied / Bleeding from your eyes", from "Cringe"

"Your whole world dropped from under you / Left you with sorry excuses", from "Cop"

"Been on top of the world since about six months ago / marking the first time I laid eyes on you", from "Clavicle"

"With stolen wings and evil ways / Straight south with the keys to the pearly gates", from "Southern Rock"

"Goddamnit" proves that you need not to be a technical virtuoso to write music that touches the lives of millions of people world wide. "Goddamnit" proves, that by focusing on simplistic, subtly catchy songs, you can reach a far wider audience than by filling a record with technical gimmicks, and still sound like nobody else on this planet. "Goddamnit", and all Alkaline Trio albums that followed, proves why the punk scene isn't dead. To finish off the review, i urge you to stop what you're doing and get this album right now. Regardless of your music taste, you will fucking love "Goddamnit". Brilliant music sees no genre borders.


Download: Cringe, Clavicle, Nose Over Tail
For the fans of: The Lawrence Arms, Bayside, Hot Water Music, New Found Glory
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 25.03.2008
Asian Man Records

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