Alkaline Trio – This Addiction

Having been at the forefront of punk rock for fourteen years, Alkaline Trio’s esteemed position in the genre’s folklore is already set in stone. The Illinois triumvirate have not strayed too often from a clear formula across a seven-album career, but the band’s uplifting, anthemic brand of punk rock is now instantly recognisable, and is unequivocally adored by thousands of loyal fans worldwide. The one instance where Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano and Derek Grant opted to take a considerably less familiar musical approach was 2008’s Agony & Irony, and this significant change in the band’s sound resulted in some mumblings of discontent from fans and critics alike. Those who were disappointed by the 2008 release, however, will be delighted to discover that new album This Addiction is an undeniable return to form. It may not be Alkaline Trio’s finest work, but this is a thoroughly enjoyable record nonetheless, and there is no doubt that this band is as integral a component of punk rock as ever before.

In many ways, This Addiction is the most complete Alkaline Trio record to date; all of the main attributes that have played a crucial role in the formation of the band’s now unmistakable sound over the years are certainly apparent, but there is also an underlying thirst for diversity and progression, which is implemented far more effectively than on the aforementioned Agony & Irony. One of the areas in which Alkaline Trio have always excelled is melody, and this element in particular stands out throughout This Addiction. The no-nonsense opening title track, the straight-up pop prowess of Dine, Dine My Darling and the brilliant Draculina all possess infectious melodic hooks that everyone can enjoy, and there is a distinctly poignant, heartfelt quality to the latter which makes it one of the record’s highlights. The same can be said of the gorgeous Dead On The Floor, which includes frontman Skiba’s most powerful vocal and lyrical performance, permeated by an absolutely tremendous main riff.

It is not until the album begins to approach its conclusion, however, that Alkaline Trio’s desire to explore previously unchartered territory shines through. A notable example of this is the keyboard-laden Eating Me Alive, which perhaps requires several listens before it can be truly appreciated, although its rather euphoric, exhilarating atmosphere is instantly obvious. Dorothy is another track which really ‘grows’ on the listener, but once this process has taken place, you cannot help but applaud Skiba and co for applying such an unusual melodic structure so effectively. Closing track Fine is further evidence of Alkaline Trio’s successful strides into the unfamiliar. This is a wonderful tranquil offering with an eagerness to erupt, and a great vocal display from bassist Andriano is the highlight. The four-stringer’s vocal skills are perhaps best demonstrated, however, on the somewhat more conventional yet sublime Off The Map. With soaring pop-punk riffs, highly impressive vocals and an insanely infectious chorus, the track definitely epitomises everything that makes this band so great.

Given the fact that the standards set by Alkaline Trio across their career have remained consistently high, it would appear that the band has nothing left to prove. Nevertheless, This Addiction marks an important stage in the life of Alk3, not only because it will be viewed by some as the moment when Skiba, Andriano and Grant rediscovered their best form, but also because it appears to be an ideal starting point for those previously unacquainted with the band to become a follower. Melodically, vocally and in terms of songwriting, Alkaline Trio have equalled the expectations of many, and exceeded those of others. Although 2001’s From Here To Infirmary remains the band’s finest hour, This Addiction is undoubtedly not far short of this standard, and it now seems resoundingly clear that Alkaline Trio will continue to produce punk rock albums of the finest order for many years to come.


About JJPorter

JJ is a 20-year-old student hailing from Scotland, who lives and breathes music. His favourite genres include a variety of styles of metal, as well as hardcore, punk, and just about everything in between. Contact JJPorter on Twitter or via Email.

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