Alkaline Trio – Through The Years by Mark McConville

Punk band Alkaline Trio formed in the humble city of Chicago in 1996. Since then, the band has catapulted into an institution, a band that appeal to the punks, the emo sector and the freaks. By blending heartbreaking lyrics with shuddering guitar parts, the act has evolved into a staple of the music industry. Fronted by the enigmatic Matt Skiba, they’ve earned their right to play funky bars and high end venues. Although the band has been around for a considerable amount of time, they have kept it fresh and daring.

Through the years, Alkaline Trio has released many records. Their bite on the punk scene is profound, their contribution to the industry as a whole has been rightfully commended. This piece will describe each album as stories, chronicles of pain and despair. Not everyone likes Alkaline Trio’s catalog, nor do they like the dark edged aura of the band. But, there’s songs on the act’s list that may appeal to the pop fanatic.

Goddamnit (1998)

Alkaline Trio burst onto the scene with their debut album Goddamnit. A rough around the edges contribution, its rawness took many by surprise. It isn’t a textured release nor is it a polished one, but that’s what punk rock is about. Matt Skiba’s vocals are gritty on this album, but his lyrical genius shades through. Throughout the record, Skiba pinpoints many addictions, including alcohol abuse and substance misuse. On many occasions, we hear him scream and shout, holler at the crippling world. Dissecting this album is complex as there isn’t a linear plot, but it is a stellar opus to kick off Alkaline Trio’s supremacy as dark princes of punk rock.

Top songs:

Nose Over Tail

Clavicle

Sorry About That.

Maybe I’ll Catch Fire (2000)

Alkaline Trio had gone back into the recording studio high on adrenaline. After the battle-hard nature of Goddamnit, the act nurtured their sound and brought us Maybe I’ll Catch Fire. Yet again, the record isn’t a groundbreaking tour de force or a statement of intent, but what it is, is a punk album that takes time to settle. When it does, it enforces the listener to take note. Songs such as Radio and Fuck You Aurora command the room. They’re the type of tracks which resonate, they’re emotionally connecting, fully bloodied and raw. The guitar sound is more abrasive here, and Skiba showcases diversity with his composition. Bassist Dan Adriano, shows he’s a dab hand as a musician also. Drummer Glenn Porter hits the kit ferociously. The subject matter focuses on life’s downtrodden feelings and neglected dreams. Skiba writes like he’s stuck to the pills and is struck by mania.

Top Songs:

Radio

Fuck You Aurora

Madam Me.

From Here To Infirmary (2001)

A little more polished. A little more venomous. From Here To Infirmary landed in 2001. Many cite this record as the band’s most complete. Commencing with Private Eye, a song that is praised for being the act’s daring contribution. An endearing song for the punks and the alienated, it signified Alkaline Trio’s prominence as a band to consider. Throughout From Here To Infirmary, there’s also a melancholic vibe, as well as fully versed plot. Skiba and Adriano sing these songs built on vigor and restless nightmares. It isn’t beautiful, it isn’t coated in rose petals, but it’s enthralling. Musically, Skiba plays fearlessly. Those simple but engaging guitar lines offer abrasiveness and sturdiness. It’s a winner all round for Alkaline Trio fans.

Top Songs:

Private Eye

Stupid Kid

Another Innocent Girl.  

Good Mourning (2003)

Sick to their stomachs. Killing time and dreaming of promise and hope. Good Mourning is Alkaline Trio’s battle-cry. It is their darkest, most revealing record. Some love it and some despise its subject matter. Skiba let it all spew out here. His lyrics are sublime, his technique is fundamental to the progression of the album. All of these songs nibble and then bite down. They’re not serene, they’re not gracious, but they’re relevant and full of substance. Guitars are played full throttle. Hearts are stretched, years and years of manic depression takes its toll. With all this commotion and hysteria, Good Mourning is a stellar opus.

Top songs:

This Could Be Love

All On Black

Blue In The Face.

Crimson (2005)

Many critics and fans believe Crimson is Alkaline Trio’s weakest album. Although it doesn’t hit the gut like others, there are many songs that resonate and develop. There’s a track melded in called Sadie. A controversial song in which Skiba sings about a gruesome murder. This theme is swirled throughout the record, a dark, seedy, undercurrent. From the start to the conclusion, the opus is balanced well, but isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.   

Top Songs:

Time To Waste

Mercy Me

Fall Victim.

Agony And Irony (2008)

Agony And Irony is an underrated album. Not many praised the collection. Skiba lyrical play was still there in parts, but the whole concept lacked fluidity. This isn’t a damning assessment of the record, but a sincere review. There’s songs here that work tremendously well, in fact, the album isn’t as mediocre as many describe it as. Yes, it doesn’t hold up against prior records, but what it does do is offer the listener an escape route into Skiba’s hardened world. Musically, the rhythm and technique is still present. Songs conveying war soaked lands and fiery confrontations are packed in here.

Top Songs:

Over And Out

Help me

Calling All Skeletons.

This Addiction (2010)

Alkaline Trio walked across a refined terrain here. This Addiction is a polished record. Many of these songs sound overly coated. But, the album is a triumph. Skiba, Adriano, and Grant, take their respective instruments and utilize them brilliantly well. There’s tracks that express loss, hurt, and the craving for redemption. Skiba is on fire here lyrically. He penned some of the band’s most audacious scores. Sonically, the album is solid. Guitars are brazen, words fly like notes. This Addiction is primarily an opus conveying addiction problems, loves bitterness and heartlessness.

Top Songs:

This Addiction

The American Scream

Off The Map

My Shame Is True (2013)

My Shame Is True is certainly a weak spot. Lyrically it is pedestrian. Musically, there are points to like. But, it seems Skiba lost all of his ingenuity. Adriano’s contributions are structured better. They mean much more. He sings with urgency and intent throughout. Keeping it fresh is complex, but My Shame Is True is stale with a few joyous fragments.

Top Songs:  

I Wanna Be A Warhol

I, Pessimist

Only Love.

Is This Thing Cursed? (2018)

Alkaline Trio broke their hiatus. They came forward with Is This Thing Cursed? It is a collection which takes influence from past sounds. Many fans liked this direction, and critics praised the intelligence and sophistication shown throughout. Skiba’s wordplay was back to its best, and he didn’t hold back. The album is a back to basics compendium which kills the bad taste of the ludicrously underpowered My Shame Is True disc. Skiba also took time out of being the other singer/songwriter of pop punk act Blink 182 to focus on his beloved band. Is This Thing Cursed? is Alkaline Trio’s comeback album, and it’s a great punk morsel.

Mark McConville.

Bio: Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist who has written for many online and print publications. He also loves to write dark fiction.
@Writer1990Mark
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