Review Summary: Goddamnit is a rough display of everything that Alkaline Trio excels at.
One album I will always associate with pop-punk greatness is Alkaline Trio's first studio release, "Goddamnit". The band's lineup at the time of recording was Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano, and Glenn Porter (Who would later leave the band). Together they created a thrashing, catchy and raw album that caught the attention of many with its intelligent lyrics, speaker shattering guitar work, and addicting choruses. Although the record is relatively short, coming in just over thirty minutes, it's filled to the brim with everything you'd expect from a great punk album and more. Sit down with your expectations high -- Or maybe even a head full of anger and a shattered heart for an intensified experience -- and be ready to experience Alkaline Trio at their best.
The opening track, "Cringe", wastes no time with a subtle introduction. Within seconds we're plunged from silence into a delicious mess of guitar, bass and drums. How better a way to start an album then immediately diving into the grungy display of Matt's scratchy vocals, the quick, but repetitive guitar work and Dan absolutely shredding on the bass? This would soon be known as the Trio's formula for each catchy song they've produced over the years and it works fantastically throughout all of "Goddamnit". From there we're taken to our next number which begins appropriately with police sirens, pounding drums, a great bass line and a distortion-laden pick slide. "Cop" is another quick, addicting song which again shows how great the Trio are at what they do. Matt's voice is clean and sings his ever-clever lyrics with an intense anger that he performs so perfectly. This style is repeated numerous times throughout the record, but never once does it feel stale. It's always an invigorating listen, especially when you're angry and feel like screaming at the top of your lungs. The Trio has a style with angry songs that is always flawlessly executed.
Among the fast-paced angry numbers there are also the emotional tracks, which are just as good, if not better in their own respect. "San Fransisco" shows us Skiba at his best. The heart-wrenching lyrics about his homesick feelings for his hometown give us an insight to his emotions that is rare to see so vividly in music today. His voice is just the perfect intensity to show how truly heartbroken he is and how raw the passion for what he's singing is. Skiba appears with another emotional song on the album's acoustic conclusion, "Sorry About That". Here we're shown again that Skiba has a soft side outside of the songs about drugs and anger. The vocals are flawless once again for what he's singing. He really has a way with letting his emotions flow out through his music.
I'm of course not forgetting another key player in Alkaline Trio's success on this album. Dan Andriano is ever-present with his gruff bass shredding on each fast-paced song, giving us wonderful ear candy when he's not being drowned out by Skiba's relentless guitar. He first appears as vocalist on his slow, emotional number, "Enjoy Your Day". Although this track slightly dulled the pace that was set up by Skiba's previous tracks, it is still a great, emotionally vivid track. Andriano, much like Skiba, wonderfully portrays his emotions through his singing. Each note stings with an obvious sadness that only Andriano could make you feel. The next track we hear him on is his faster number, "Message From Kathlene". Though not as emotionally effective as his last, this is still a solid track; His bass prominently appearing with a sweet line throughout.
During the course of the album we're shown Skiba's intelligence as a writer. He gives us wonderful metaphors (Mostly focusing on drugs and alcohol) and witty quips which set him apart from many of his punk competitors. On songs like "My Little Needle" and "As You Were" he gives us the insanely catchy rhythms along with his clever writing to create some of the best tracks on the record. On the other side of this, Andriano's writing isn't nearly as cryptic but is still effective in it's own regard; though you can't say he had as much of a chance to have an impact with only 2 tracks to himself.
"I'll come down and get you high/Or maybe sing you a lullaby/Sing you to sleep, a sleep you'll never wake from/Sing you to coma so to speak"
For the Trio's first full release this is an absolutely superb effort. We're served wonderfully rough, emotionally fueled songs from start to finish. It has an almost unstoppable pace, only losing momentum a few times along the way, making this an album to easily become entranced in. This will remain one of my favorite pop-punk albums available and would highly recommend it to anyone who is at least slightly interested in intelligent writing, gruff music, and of course those ridiculously catchy rhythms.