released Feb 23rd, 2010

from the album - Off The Map

YouTube - Off The Map-Alkaline trio (lyrics)

from all music

Formed by ex-Jerkwater and Traitors drummer Matt Skiba (vocals/guitar), former 88 Fingers Louie percussionist Glenn Porter, and Rob Doran (bass/vocals), Alkaline Trio was brought together in 1997 by heartbreak, angst, and the companionship of drinking. The original lineup issued a short EP, For Your Lungs Only, just prior to Doran's departure in late 1997, and Sundials followed one year later on Johann's Face Records. Slapstick's Dan Andriano climbed aboard to handle bass duties, adding a complementary voice and songwriting style to Skiba's that would soon become the group's signature dynamic. The three then started making a name for themselves all throughout the Midwest with their emotion-fueled, angst-ridden, dark pop-punk. With this lineup firmly in place and with Skiba and Porter working as bike messengers to make ends meet Alkaline Trio made its full-length debut in 1998 with Goddamnit!, an album whose heartbreak tales and anti-cop rants earned a modest following.

Both Maybe I'll Catch Fire and a self-titled singles collection followed in early 1999. Glenn Porter left the band early the following year and ex-Smoking Popes drummer Mike Felumlee joined in his absence, making Alkaline Trio a three-piece again. From Here to Infirmary arrived on the Vagrant label in spring 2001 and was met with a lukewarm fan response, but a split EP released by Jade Tree one year later found the Trio in top form alongside Hot Water Music, with both bands contributing original tracks and covers of each other's songs. Good Mourning was released two years later, marking the band's first album with drummer Derek Grant (ex-Suicide Machines, Thoughts of Ionesco). Good Mourning fared well, grazing the Billboard charts and scoring Alkaline Trio several spots on late-night TV and summer tours. Crimson followed in 2005 and prompted the band to return to the road that summer, both as a headliner and as an opening act for My Chemical Romance.

As their 10 year anniversary approached, Alkaline Trio hit the road in 2006 with a set that emphasized material from their earliest releases, including an entire run-through of the fan-favorite Goddamnit! By that fall, they'd also found a new home at V2 Records and began work on their next album, although label restructuring problems in January 2007 led to the band's dismissal from the label before any material was released. That same month, Vagrant issued a CD/DVD compilation named Remains, which rounded up B-sides and rarities, and the Trio used their downtime to secure new home with Epic Records. They also worked on a new album, Agony & Irony, which was relesed that summer and debuted at number 13, marking Alkaline Trio's highest chart placement to date. Despite such success, the band left Epic's roster one year later and launched their own label, Heart & Skull, which they used for the release of This Addiction in 2010.

album review

This Addiction was promoted as a return to roots for the Alkaline Trio, no doubt as a ploy to bait old fans who have been waiting over ten years for the second coming of Goddamnit! With Matt Allison (the producer responsible for most of the band's earliest work) manning the boards and new label Epitaph footing the bill, things looked promising. The lead single and title track was a great start, and showed itself to be close to a return to form, with its blazing surge of guitars and slightly vintage feel (traces of "My Friend Peter" can be heard), and it seemed to reveal a band with something to prove. However, the deeper you get into This Addiction the more apparent it becomes that the model for their punk past must be From Here to Infirmary (not the heralded classic Goddamnit!), since the end result is still the same polished album full of vaguely gothic and bloody references where characters like Draculina live no real bitterness, sore-throat defiance, or endearing heartache to be found. Despite their efforts to convince listeners otherwise, Alkaline Trio just can't seem to recapture the spirit of their early days, when purpose and emotion fueled every note. Instead, one is left with totally competent and at times, yes, catchy songs that ring just a bit too hollow compared to the urgent leave-it-all-on-the-floor guts of those earliest releases. Once the listener gets past the initial bait and switch, This Addiction takes a few spins to sink in, but when it does, several tracks do stick out of the bunch, the title track and "Off the Map" being some of the strongest. Dan Andriano has a solid showing, but with only three songs compared to Matt Skiba's eight, it would have been nice to hear him more, especially since Skiba's lyrics leave much to be desired. So despite the polished and punchy singalong choruses, This Addiction is really just more of the same recycled melodies from the Trio rather than any sort of rebirth. Those who have been enjoying what the Alkaline Trio have been releasing for the better part of the 2000s will love This Addiction all the same, but everyone else who still clings to hope of the band reclaiming its former fury may finally just throw up their hands and move on.

Track Listing

1. "This Addiction" 2:35
2. "Dine, Dine My Darling" 2:58
3. "Lead Poisoning" 2:37
4. "Dead on the Floor" 4:20
5. "The American Scream" 3:00
6. "Off the Map" 3:16
7. "Draculina" 3:34
8. "Eating Me Alive" 2:53
9. "Piss and Vinegar" 2:28
10. "Dorothy" 3:32
11. "Fine" 3:17