Review Summary: This Addiction isn't quite up to par with Alkaline Trio's previous work, but is still a decent record.
Since the release of their 2008 record, "Agony & Irony", Alkaline Trio has undergone several changes. The punk group originating from Illinois have taken on their own record label, Heart & Skull, leaving behind their major label, Epic, as well as making a so called "Return to roots,". Whether this self-proclaimed resurrection of past styles is legitimate or rather a ploy to bait in older fans lies solely in the music of their newest release, "This Addiction". There was plenty of build-up for the album, vocalist and guitar player Matt Skiba stated several times that this record would be reminiscent of their earlier work. They even went as far as to return to the recording studio used for their first full length album, "Goddamnit". Is this truly a return to punk glory for the trio? Let's observe their latest creation.
As the album starts we're immediately introduced to the first single of the record, also being the title track, "This Addiction". This is the quintessential song to show the bands (Somewhat) return to their former sound. It has everything you've come to expect from Skiba -- Drug metaphors, catchy rhythms, and some simple guitar chords to string it all together. There is no denying this song's catchy factor; It's simple and addicting (pun very intended). Along with that, it also shows Skiba's repetitive and dare I say laziness as a writer on this album. The drug metaphors are nothing new -- Any Trio fan having come to expect them -- But these lack the cleverness we've also come to expect from him. This is seen once again on the third track, and Skiba's second of eight songs on the record, "Lead Poisoning". Besides it's sickening catchiness, and the surprisingly great use of a trumpet, this song is nothing special. Using the common broken-hearts, bitterness, and death filled lyrics to a catchy rhythm that can be found in almost any Trio song to bring forth an almost solid track; If only the lyrics had a bit more substance.
"Sobbing softly, lost and hollow/This fevered dream, tough pill to swallow"
The way I've introduced this has brought us to a shaky start for the record, but it's not all bad news. In fact, there are indeed some solid tracks delivered by Skiba. The fifth track of the record, "The American Scream", is a good song about a soldier's suicide after his return from Iraq. This is possibly Matt's best on the album, portraying the situation successfully with his descriptive lyrics. The next Skiba song that caught my attention sounds as if it could be a missing track from his side project, Heavens. "Dorothy" is incredibly reminiscent of "Anabelle" from Heavens' 2006 release "Patent Pending". I suppose you could say that about just any song by the Trio that includes a female name in the title, though.
I feel like I'm missing out on something here... Oh yeah! Dan Andriano! He's on the record too! With a whopping three songs out of the eleven on the album I almost forgot about him. Though, that isn't to say that his songs were forgettable -- In fact they were far, far from that. Andriano presents some of the best songs on the record, and I hate to admit it, but I don't think the album would have been half as good without his contribution. The second track is where we first hear Dan on lead vocals. "Dine, Dine My Darling" is a catchy song with good lyrics and, of course, Dan's wonderful vocals. He sounds consistently crisp throughout the record, which is refreshing with eight tracks of Skiba's not-so-savory pipes. Four tracks later Dan shows up with "Off The Map", another great song which has seamless flow and is one of the catchier tracks.
"I loosen my lips and the truth slips out/A free ride on a forked tongue/This twine of trust is unspun"
As the conclusion, and best song on the record, we are served Dan once again. "Fine" is possibly the best song Dan has written thus far. The ability to make a song extremely emotional, cleverly written, and catchy all at once is something that the Trio has perfected. Of course, you must compliment Andriano's vocals once again, showing that he is indeed the star of this album. It gives us a wonderful conclusion to a record that I was iffy about during the process of listening to, almost redeeming some of the mistakes on earlier tracks. This will no doubt be a fan favorite, and will be on repeat for me for quite some time.
"If I'm the captain of this boat then all my shipmates are fools/And all the stars in the world couldn't help me steer my way out of this kiddie pool"
I'd say this is a decent record at best. There are blatant weak spots brought by some of Skiba's weakest writing thus far -- And there are some high points, brought by a few Dan songs and the addictive factor of Matt's. Is this a return to former glory? I wouldn't say that at all, but it's a definite nod to their older material. It's a fine effort, but not quite up to par of what the band is capable of. Is it worth your money? Yeah, I'd say so. It has plenty of catchy songs and singalong chorus' to keep you humming them for a while. For older Trio fans, I'd say check it out. And, of course, if you've never listened to the Trio before. What are you waiting for? Seriously.