Album Review: Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?

download (1)Thank the gods of the macabre! Alkaline Trio has grown up!  In their first new album in five years they show their maturity through a bit of intellectualism.  They are questioning the state of things (“Is this thing Cursed?” “Throw Me To The Lions”). They are speaking in hypotheticals and about insecurities (“Stay,” “Heart Attacks,” “Worn So Thin”).  They are cynical at the answers society gives (“I Can’t Believe,” “Pale Blue Ribbon”) and they even seem to delve into environmental issues (“Goodbye Fire Island”). Plus, a song approaching country-punk full of desires for a drink, a smoke, and some companionship (“Little Help?”).

Yet, they satisfy that pure, clean pop-punk sound that has been their hallmark.  All of these songs are so Alkaline Trio and while they have grown, their first single, (“Blackbird”) “Demon and Division,” and “Sweet Vampires” are just what you’d expect from any Alkaline Trio album ever: speedy, oh so clean cleverly written songs scratching that Alkaline itch.

I’d long given up on them as they moved into a shinier, more produced direction from Agony & Irony.  I hadn’t even looked to see what was up with them since.  But I found that they had released this sexy little record AND live versions of several albums: the early, insanely good and inanely written (with so many witty turns of phrase) Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, Goddamnit, and From Here to Infirmary.  There’s a treasure trove of good shit here, including an acoustic album (Damnesia) that let’s the cathartic voice of Matt Skiba shine with that sorrowful vocal fry.

This album is good.  Like I said, 5 years have passed since their last studio venture.  And the time off has allowed them to take a step forward in purpose and theme in their music.  It has won me over and will be in the regular rotation for a long time.

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