Alkaline Trio – Agony & Irony
Release Date: July 1, 2008
Record Label: Epic
“This is so bad.”
“This is my least favorite record by them.”
“They’re dead to me.”
“Maybe they should just break up.”
These were just some of the general reactions to Alkaline Trio’s 2005 release, Crimson. Many longtime fans of the band disliked it; they didn’t like the dynamics, the vibe, the atmosphere. It was “too goth.” The list continues. Quite frankly, this very reviewer enjoyed Crimson, sure it wasn’t their best work, but it was far from horrible. Now three years have passed, and the Chicago punk vets are back with their sixth studio album and Epic debut, Agony & Irony. But has three years been enough for fans to forget the bitter taste of Crimson?
Agony & Irony is somewhat a return to simplicity for the band. Some of the strings and orchestration used in Crimson are less prevalent and the band just rocks out. Opening track, “Calling All Skeletons” gets the party started with handclaps and big vocals from Matt Skiba. The chorus is contagious and will be in your head for hours. The first single, “Help Me,” features driving verses and a bouncy pre-chorus, and even though the chorus remotely sounds like The Cardigans’ “Love Fool,” it still works. “In Vein” has a nice choppy feel to it, with guitars that needle in and out and Dan Andriano providing the vocal backbone. The drumming from Derek Grant is also superb.
“Over And Out” is classic Trio, with Skiba solemn vocals pacing the verses, while “Do You Wanna Know?” features big guitars, a nice falsetto from Andriano, and perhaps the best chorus on the entire album. “Love Love, Kiss Kiss” may turn off fans initially, but eventually it grows on you like moss, and you may hate yourself for reciting the chorus over and over mere hours later.
The Trio save their best for last, as the final three tracks finish out the album in high fashion. “Lost And Rendered” is a frantic rocker, channeling a “Good Mourning” vibe throughout. “Ruin It” starts with static and a menacing guitar riff from Skiba, while Andriano pleads for you stick around for his “best day.” Closer “Into The Night” packs a punch. It’s everything you want in an Alkaline Trio track: fast, sharp, and to the point, quite the difference from the slow, dramatic “Smoke,” which closed Crimson.
In the end, will some fans be disappointed? Probably, but these are the people who wish Alkaline Trio would have written 10 Goddamnit’s in a row instead of progressing and expanding their sound. Regardless, Agony & Irony is a major improvement from Crimson; it’s instantly catchy and features all your favorite aspects of the band. While at the times the lyrics are subpar, the album still delivers, as it's still a fine punk rock albums to blast from your stereo for the remainder of summer.
Good album. I wish that they dropped the whole macabre themes and just went back to songs about drinking and girls, but it's still the best Alkaline Trio in a while (which is still better than most albums out there!).
this album wouldn't get above 65% for me. It is summed up by 'into the night', a re-hash of a popular ol' Alkaline Trio favourite 'Private Eye'. Lazy, churned out and care free. Unfortunately, that's exactly what the long time trio fans seem to enjoy.
Good work, Drew. I don't get the hate. Alk3 fans are simply too harsh. It's a great album - they aren't the same guys they were when they released Infirmary.
Very True..but even musically i felt like crimson was a let down..it didnt sit right with me
although having heard the stream on myspace and planning to buy it the weekend..im impressed with it to say the least..you can never really judge an album from two listens, but its a definite improvement i think
I didn't think Crimson was that bad either and regarding this release, at first I was very dissapointed, but the more I listen to it the more it grows on me - which usually is the case with all really good albums. For some reason I think Dan's songs are the best ones on this release.
My fav. Alk3 album would probably be a draw between From Here To Infirmary and Good Mourning. The songs on From Here... are a little stronger, but I prefer Derek's drumming and the production of Good Mourning.
Good review Drew, but 'Do You Wanna Know' is actually wrongly assumed to be track number 6, as it is merely a bonus track on some versions of the album. The actual album has only 10 tracks. I still view it as being a part of it (because the leak came with it set as track 6), since I don't like to dismiss a perfectly good album song as a B-side. (not saying that all B-sides are inferior, not at all) It's just a very catchy album and I've been playing it non-stop for a couple of weeks. Good stuff.
I didn't think Crimson was that bad either and regarding this release, at first I was very dissapointed, but the more I listen to it the more it grows on me - which usually is the case with all really good albums.
Agreed, took me a few listens to get into it, but now i can't put it down.
This album is a jewel in the crown for them. Sure it disappoints at times but the good far outweighs the bad. And this album easily shits over most of the crap that is being released as "music" these days.
I will continue to carry the Alkaline Trio banner for as long as I'm around.