Alkaline Trio - Agony & Irony
Record Label: Epic Records
Release Date: July 1, 2008
Agony & Irony is the sixth studio album of Chicago’s darkly loveable pop-punk group Alkaline Trio. The songs on the record contain traces of all the bands’ previous work while having a more polished feel thanks to the production of Josh Abraham. The album brings the focus back on the respective instruments of singer/guitarist Matt Skiba, singer/bassist Dan Andriano, and drummer Derek Grant, a noticeable contrast to the auxiliary instrumentation that turned some off to 2005’s Crimson.
The record begins with “Calling All Skeletons,” with Skiba belting out over handclaps and a dancey chord progression. Though the change in the Alkaline Trio’s sound is immediately evident, there’s so much to even the first track that it is undoubtedly them. Once you hear Skiba sing, “I’ve grown to love your disappearing acts / Do one more pretty please,“ you’ll realize you’re still listening to the Alkaline Trio you’ve grown to love. The first single, “Help Me,” is a perfect mix of old and new school Alkaline Trio and shows the band hasn’t forgotten how to write huge hooks and memorable lyrics. “In Vein” is the first Andriano-fronted track on the album and will remind you how well the two frontmen compliment each other.
Andriano's "Do You Wanna Know?" begins with a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on 2001’s From Here to Infirmary and contains one of the catchiest choruses the band has ever written. “Lost and Rendered” is one of the darkest and fastest songs on the record, as it contains haunting sound effects and frantic guitars. Though there are handclaps and gang vocal "heys," the song brings to mind the Alkaline Trio you’ve heard in the past. “Into the Night” closes the album and while it is a very solid (and very old school Alkaline Trio) song, it's not as satisfying as poignant album closers such as "Crawl," "Blue in the Face" and "Smoke," which respectively finished off the last three Alkaline Trio records.
The album’s production is big but isn’t cluttered with extra instrumentation like 2005's Crimson. It seems the band has gone back to their roots while simultaneously writing some of the most mature and refined songs of their career. Grant's drum work is as impressive as ever, as he always manages to come up with dynamic rhythms for the Skiba and Andriano's dark pop gems.
Agony & Irony might not be Alkaline Trio’s best album, but it showcases the growth of a veteran punk band. Within seconds of hearing Skiba and Andriano’s voices in standout tracks such as “Calling All Skeletons” and “Do You Wanna Know?,” you will realize that even with their maturity as songwriters, this is still the Alkaline Trio you first fell in love with. At this point in their careers, Skiba and Andriano are true pop-punk artists and, together with Grant, possess a sound that is undeniably theirs.
I could not agree more with this review. I feel as though there's something in this record for the new & old fans.
"At this point in their careers, Skiba and Andriano are true pop-punk artists and, together with Grant, possess a sound that is undeniably theirs."