By Jonathan Bradwell.
It can’t be smooth composing an album to chase the likes of “Agony and Irony”, and it must have been even harder for Front man Mat Skiba following his recent divorce. With such a juncture in mind, “This Addiction” is unquestionably the best release the Dark Trio have fulfilled.
Critics have shredded Skiba’s contributions; but this is just barren talk: He is as valuable now as he ever has been. Opening track “This Addiction” runs calmly in with the connotations of heart break and desolation, which is intelligently formed with the allegory of hard drug use and harmful obsessions. Just two tracks down the line and things appear to pick up bounce and invigorate the listener. “Lead Poisoning” as a song should have been appointed as a single, with its commanding melody that mirrors the likes of the all time hit “Mr. Chainsaw”.
Caressing the hearts of listeners is precedence for this band, so it was dignifying to know that this album would yet again yank us closer into the world of Chicago’s black punk prize possession. “Eating Me Alive” is nothing short of a classic. With lyrics reverberating personnel loss, such as “Now your stuck in my head like a love song, climbed to the top of the charts”, the song is an affectionate and overpowering piece of craft.
Alkaline Trio have always progressed their albums with a sense of levity, and “American Scream” and “Dine, Dine my darling” have an almost cringe worthy element of satire to them. Despite this, the dispatch of these anthems matches accordingly with the rest of the album, resulting in some mid tracks that could well be dormant future singles.
The CD ends attractively on a mild track that is one of the highlights of this album: “Fine”. With an elegant drum beat prefacing the song, the instruments are used gingerly to grant Dan Andriano’s voice some time to soar. After a career of reputedly abrogating lyrics of pushing people away, “Fine” seems like a development in the direction of self acknowledgement. One of the most unveiling lyrics recites: “Wake me when you learn to be cool”, which demonstrates this point.
The cover sleeve of the album itself is an audacious and almost controversial picture. A heart shaped pile of pills, perhaps amphetamines or medical pills, lay on an austere black canvas. Inside lays a humble contemplative photo album of shots from the recording studio, showing the rapport in the ranks.
In terms of production values, “Agony and Irony” and “This addiction” could not be more analogous. With the electronic effects and vocals very prominent, the sound is in fact immense. However, the B-sides are somewhat the albums downfall. We all know that acoustic material should be unrefined and try to capture the band in their element, but there is something notably hasty about this on “This Addiction”. However, still a charming touch for those die hard fans with those extra few pounds to deploy.
The DVD on the special edition is just virtuoso. For those fundamental fans, this extension inserts a live interpretation in the form of a performance in the Las Vegas House of Blues in 2008, and the set list ranges right back to the younger days of Alkaline Trio. It is a bag of visually accessible gems. With a stripped back stage show, the au current tracks in particular are laid disrobed to this congregation. Alkaline Trio expose no signs of becoming disheartened or too aged to do what they love doing.
Alkaline Trio have already formulated a UK leg of the tour which promises to bring some of these new tracks for those engrossed to see in person. So looking towards the ulterior, it seems laborious to conceptualize an album out of the routine: The convention that each release gets increasingly tenacious and more responsive as their career rattles on.
If challenged to pick one criticism, it is that the theme of love and loss may be wearing thin for some of the older fans. Chemistry used for more than a few albums can sometimes edge towards losing its affect. However, if this is the case, the audience may not quite deduce what it is Alkaline Trio strives to do. The design of Alkaline Trio, among their fans, is treasured and loved.
In a world where bands chase trends and sway towards political rhetoric, traditional approaches such as this one are a pleasure. With taut drumming, gracefully harmonized synth and guitars, with the conventional vocal and bass approach, “This Addiction” is on firm advocacy.
(Picture courtesy of Consequence of Sound)