I hate major record labels. And I wouldn't if I didn't have a good reason to. Now I know, you're going to be like, "Son, businesses are out there to make money. The almighty dollar. That's what this country was founded upon, money and killing people." But at the cost of compromising beliefs and putting out shitty music? Anyways, sorry to start out this review as a lecture, I've just got some things on my mind. I've seen quite a few bands that I've grown up loving (Green Day and AFI being two that come to mind) change their sound and attitudes drastically as they suck the cocks of the major record labels. I understand bands need to change their sounds to escape being bored and to grow, but there's this eerie feeling in the air when bands start to get big and sign on to major record labels.
The Alkaline Trio have been putting out great records for the last ten years. Dark, poetic, raw, morbidly humorous, and damn catchy. As far as "pop punk" goes, they have always been at the front of pushing the limits and refusing to be formulaic. As they've been getting increasingly more popular the last couple years, I've held my breath in hopes that they wouldn't put out a shitty record. And I've been lucky; Good Mourning and Crimson were both great albums while still being released by Vagrant. But the inevitable has happened and the band has gotten too big for its shoes and has exploded. They were going to be on V2 before the released all their artists to focus on their back catalog, which would have been a good fit. They're on Epic now. Let's not forget who else was on Epic, the Clash. And major labels aren't always a bad thing; Bad Religion put out a few good records on Atlantic (let's just forget about the New America though), the Melvins were on Atlantic too, which amazes me because they aren't going to sell records.
Anyways, I digress. As the album opens with the uptempo "Calling All Skeletons," their is a certain hope instilled for this album. Things seem brighter, the songwriting has improved (for better or worse), and the songs are disgustingly catchy. "Over And Out" sounds more like Matt Skiba's sideproject Heavens or even hints of the Cure than the more raw punk sound over the band's earliest days.
The subject matter is still dark and gothic, but not as clever as past releases. Dan Adiano's songs are slower, borderline love songs with hints of the Cars. But he makes his hatred for love apparent on the sappy anti-love song "Love Love, Kiss Kiss." Matt Skiba continues to write interesting and catchy pop punk with "Lost and Rendered" standing out.
This is still the Alkaline Trio. While they have always had a pop sensibilty, they focus on it more on Agony and Irony, while juxtaposing it with their dark side. Sure, the Hot Topic crowd will like it, but the Trio have a way of appealing to a lot of different crowds. I can breathe easy again.
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