New Alkaline Trio is still better than anything Matt Skiba has done with Blink-182. Come on, you know it’s true.
For a while there, I was assuming that Alkaline Trio had been put on the back-burner for new music and that we wouldn’t see a new album from the famed alternative/pop-punk trio for god knows how long. Instead, we’d all just be reduced to having to watch Blink-182 and Alkaline Trio singer/guitarist/legend Matt Skiba work together for more ill-gotten records like 2016’s subpar ‘California‘. Thankfully, the jet-black painted hearts of fans and scorned lovers everywhere have been answered this week with the recent announcement of the Illinois band’s 9th LP, this year’s ‘Is This Thing Cursed?‘.
Dropping on August 31st, co-lead vocalist and bassist Dan Andriano explained that this new album felt like a long distant relative to 2000’s ‘Maybe I’ll Catch Fire’, saying that: “The songwriting process is almost like what it was back in the day. We would just kind of write a song, be excited about it, then move on. We wrote in that spirit in the studio. I really feel like we made a record that the old school fans are going to dig.”
While we may not get killer songs like ‘Keep ‘Em Coming’ and ‘Madam Me‘ or a ‘razorblade shitting’ closer as miserably wonderful as ‘Radio’, that statement gives me hope we’ll see a truly solid Alkaline Trio record levitate from the crypt. This band doesn’t have a bad record, truth be told, but on the flip side, we also haven’t had an outright top-notch Alkaline Trio album since 2008’s brilliant ‘Agony & Irony’. (Even if the soulful ‘Young Lovers’ is one of the band’s greatest songs – period).
Produced and mixed by Cameron Webb (Hawthorne Heights, Pennywise), ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’ dusts off the band’s cobwebs with the classic Alkaline Trio single; the covert-themed, Cold-War-era placed and technicolor dream of ‘Blackbird’. Completed by drummer Derek Grant, everything about ‘Blackbird‘ oozes with what makes this band great. The locked-in, driving percussion that rolls like Red soldiers behind the Iron Curtain; those sweet vocal harmonies and infectious chorus melodies that soar like a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird; and Matt’s “for your eyes only” macabre and depressed lyricism about atomic-blonde romance bleeding out to circle the drain mere moments later. (I swear there are at least two James Bond references somewhere in this track too). All with the three-piece’s strong knack for song structuring that feels like a proper journey from point A to point B; through peacetime calmness, 60s nervousness, to post-war blues, and millennial bitterness.
If you want Alkaline Trio that tastes like real Alkaline Trio, then here you go! I know that’s what I wanted.