It’s probably too late to start liking Alkaline Trio. But for the many who count Goddamnit and Good Mourning as integral parts of their high-school soundtracks, the Trio’s most recent release, This Addiction, is the perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with these punk rockers.
Alkaline Trio’s last two releases, Crimson and Agony & Irony, saw them stepping away from their roots. Pure rawness and three-chord pop-punk hooks over morbid lyrical themes – Alkaline Trio’s very essence – was replaced by overproduction and a keener sense of what would make it on the radio. But with the return of their early-years producer, Matt Allison, and a release under their own label, Heart & Skull, the band has rediscovered itself.
Besides one synth lick on “Eating Me Alive,” and a ska-infused trumpet line on “Lead Poisoning,” This Addiction is good, old fashioned, heart-on-your-sleeve punk, in a way Alkaline Trio mastered years ago. It’s difficult not to smile and breathe a sigh of relief and nostalgic satisfaction when you hear Matt Skiba wailing “I needed this like a new hole in the head,” over an upbeat major-chord progression.
Sometimes bands need to just stick with what they know. The Trio has realized this on This Addiction, and while they have grown up and toned down the superlative darkness a little bit, they are still refreshingly old school. The instrumentation is simple, all three musicians are totally on point and lyrical themes once again include heartbreak, angst, war, suicide, drugs, divorce and a fair share of blood and guts. Oh, oxymoronic pop-punk melancholy – we missed you.