Heart and Skull Records
Out of the thousands of bands I have on my iPod, Alkaline Trio are one of the few bands that I can put on shuffle and sit and listen to every single song I have of theirs in a single day. It’s a feat I’ve done on several occasions, where I hit shuffle and play over one hundred Alkaline Trio songs without getting bored and switching to another band. That says something about the consistency of the band; because even though some of their CDs are better than others; collectively Alkaline Trio’s catalogue works together and rarely offers any sort of disappointment.
With This Addiction, I now have eleven more tracks to add into the rotation for when I next sit down and listen to the Alkaline Trio catalogue in its entirety; and these eleven tracks are quite possibly some of the best tracks the band has ever recorded.
Stepping back to the basics, the Chicago trio entered Atlas Studio to record with Matt Allison again for the first time since their 2004 split with One Man Army. Keeping it closed to only the four of them, the recording process of This Addiction saw no outside input and, after playing the Chicago Riot Fest with bands like Screeching Weasel, Pegboy and Naked Raygun, Alkaline Trio allowed more of their punk rock roots to show up in the songs than they have in a long time. This transforms This Addiction into one of the strongest, dark pop-punk records in recent years – and that’s exactly what they wanted.
The production quality is slick, but it’s meant to be that way. It’s not overly polished like a few of their recent albums (Crimson, I’m looking at you), but instead shows a band that is maturing and creating a punk rock sound that is intentionally polished.
Matt Skiba’s vocals see him digging into his signature style once again as he sings of death, drugs and loss. For some, this can be drag as Skiba hasn’t expanded his lyrical content and is unable to reach the genius that he displayed in songs like Radio, Clavicle, Hell Yes, or I Lied By Face Off; however, Skiba still remains ahead of most lyricists and songs like Eating me Alive, Draculina, This American Scream and Lead Poisoning show why. Dan Andriano’s three cuts offer a nice complement to Skiba’s darker tracks with a poppier edge that turns tracks like Dine, Dine, Dine My Darling into a perfect example of what makes Alkaline Trio such a staple in this ever changing punk scene.
The album becomes Alkaline Trio’s most cohesive album to date, with every song working with one another, pulling it forward until it’s done before you know it with Andriano’s soothing swan song Fine. This Addiction, the title track and lead single, may be one of the best pop-punk songs ever written with strong power chords, thundering bass lines and a mammoth sing-along chorus that begs to be played over and over again. Lead Poisoning features an upbeat tempo and NOFX-like horn section in the bridge that comes out from left field and knocks the listener away. Eating Me Alive begins with a synthesiser introduction and has the best two-line couplet on the album: And you can’t sit there and tell me that I didn’t try / And I can honestly tell you that I never lied.
This Addiction is a high contender for album of the year as it’s clear that Alkaline Trio have found their stride once again here; and I, for one, couldn’t be happier.