Monday, June 30, 2008

Alkaline Trio - Agony and Irony

Alkaline Trio - Agony and Irony
Epic Records

Alkaline Trio are at that point in their career where no matter what they do, people will bitch about it. If they put out an album that sounds different, old fans will complain that it doesn't sound like their old records. But, if they put out something that sounds like the early stuff, people will complain that they haven't progressed their sound. It's the vicious catch 22 of the punk rock community. You can't win.

While I can say that I haven't really been enthralled with the last two Trio records, they're always solid albums with a listen from time to time. And as I said in last week's live review, they're still a fun live band who gives it their all every time. So, regardless of any negative stuff I saw online, I was excited to check this record out. Unlike the aforementioned fickle fans who are never satisfied, I was impressed with Agony and Irony.

"Calling All Skeletons" is a great opener, with one of the best verses The Trio have put out in a while. So catchy. The same can be said of the next two tracks, which already appeared on a teaser EP they put out a little while back. "Over and Out" is the first to really slow the album down, and Matt's first song that really deals with some storytelling, which is cool. It's not entirely from the first person perspective; he looks at other "characters" throughout the song. The bassline is killer as well.

Throughout the album, there is a poppy sense of catchiness that Alkaline Trio always does well, but there's a lot less of the pseudo goth nonsense that can get annoying. Actually, I don't think there's a single mention of a coffin, which is nice. "Live Fast, Die Young" is the only real dud of a track, as it's pretty slow and never seems to reach what it's building towards in it's four plus minutes. "Love Love, Kiss Kiss" is a catchy song, despite the lyrical misstep in "Love love, kiss kiss, blah blah blah," but I figure Dan is usually good for one lyric botch per album, so I'll let it slide.

While it's not the perfect Alkaline Trio record, Agony and Irony is one more solid album in the impressive catalog these guys have strung together. It's on a major label, and hopefully they pick up some new fans, but I'm not sure I see them selling out arenas in the near future. Really, it's a shame since they have over a decade of solid records, but such is the fickle music industry.

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