Review Summary: Alkaline Trio's sophomore effort is on par with their first, and even improves on a few things.
Alkaline Trio's first studio release, "Goddamnit", established their sound as a band. With their aggressive pop-punk style and intelligent lyrics they captured the attention of fans of the genre and began to form a fan base. It was difficult to think of how they could follow up on such a huge success, but they returned two years later with more shades of crimson and black with "Maybe I'll Catch Fire". They bring back the same formula of anger and alcohol to present another successfully catchy and well-written album with a bit more polish on it than their previous.
The key players of the first record return here with Matt Skiba on guitar, Dan Andriano on bass and Glenn Porter (This being the last album he would record with the band) on drums. As expected, the album is balanced with a mix of sharp, clever songs of spite and anger, and emotionally charged numbers which excel with the atmosphere they create. Skiba provides many of the spiteful tracks, keeping on track with what he established in "Goddamnit". With songs like "F**k You Aurora" it appears that he's mastered the craft of catchy hatred. His grim vocals set up a dark subtlety which go hand-in-hand with the lyrics.
"Letters meant to be sent have been torn/The phone lies off the hook on the floor/All these I'm sorry's and I miss you's are useless/I F**ked this one up long ago"
The sludgy sound of Dan's bass is ever-present throughout the record, being perfectly displayed in his song "You've Got So Far To Go". His clean singing and unique storytelling really display his progression from "Goddamnit". The lyrics are a little less whiny and a lot catchier. The title track, also belonging to Dan, is a precise representation of Alkaline Trio as a band. There's the morbid imagery shown through the lyrics, quick and repetitive chord changes and the overall dark feeling brought from Dan's droning, but crisp singing.
The raw sound used on their previous album is still here, but the production quality has been upped to find a good balance between scratchy guitar and clean singing. Take a song like "Tuck Me In" and you'll hear the swift guitar playing still fills your speakers with distortion, but doesn't overwhelm the track. This was a step in the right direction when it comes to listening pleasure, but maybe a step in the opposite when you're wanting to let loose and snap your neck when you're jamming in the car.
Matt's lyricism has always been his strong point, and his writing on this record is no different. He spices his songs with clever metaphors and wonderfully dark imagery, making him one of the best lyricists in the pop-punk industry. On "Sleepyhead" is where you'll find some of the vivid and disturbing imagery on the record. The way he wails the lyrics only adds to the atmosphere, making it one of the best on the album.
"You're scratching at itching/Brought by spiders beneath your skin"
When it comes to conclusions, Alkaline Trio brings the best. "Radio" is a slowly accelerating, emotionally drenched number which perfectly shows you how incredible Skiba's writing is; As well as his spot-on singing with which he portrays his feelings beautifully through his intensely passionate wails. As the song builds up, his singing becomes more ferocious until finally it comes crashing in with guitar and cymbal pounding in the chorus. The anger with which it's presented makes it perfect to shout when you're heart-broken and full of rage. Definitely one of the Trio's best.
"I've got a big, fat F**kin' bone to pick with you my darling"
"Maybe I'll Catch Fire" is the epitome of what emotional punk should be. A haze of heavy guitars, smart lyrics and passionate singing. Through ten tracks we're shown the potential of a band that can create a wonderful first album, and then a follow up record that is on par with it. Rarely does it lose momentum, but when it does it in no time accelerates back to the catchy punk greatness that you'll be infatuated with by the end of the album. A must have for any Trio fan, and anyone who enjoys high quality pop-punk music.