Review Summary: Dead Dove. Do Not Eat.
My biggest pet peeve is when an artist’s solo side project could fit right into the band they’re currently in. I don’t see any creative reasons for why an artist would start a completely new project just to continue in the same vein they have been in. Notice I said ‘creative reasons’, leaving out financial motivations, because in my make-believe world, money by itself is not a justifiable end goal for artistic endeavors. That said, I’ll try to take Babylon
and evaluate it for itself. Heavy emphasis on try.
, Matt Skiba continues on the same path he set on with his 2010 release Demos
, which I can only assume is an outlet for rejected Alkaline Trio songs (I said I’d try). Backing him up as “the Sekrets” are Hunter Burgan of AFI fame on bass and current touring drummer for My Chemical Romance, Jarrod Alexander, behind the kit. I have a bit of a hard-on for Burgan’s bass playing with AFI, so I enjoyed some of his parts, particularly on opening track Voices
The album basically consists of eight bouncy pop-punk songs and one acoustic ballad ending track. I have to give credit where credit is due; Skiba is amazing at writing catchy pop-punk songs that will no doubt have many pop-punk teenyboppers chanting along with him. However, the songs are heavily weighed down by taking what should be stripped down pop-punk songs and adding kitschy effects and synth. A track like Olivia
would have been much stronger without the processed vocals and heavy reverb. Skiba should have limited the instrumentation to strictly guitar, bass, and drums, because either the added bits add nothing to the song (Voices
) or heavily hurt the track (Haven’t You
, Falling Like Rain
, the latter of which sounds like a mashup between Alkaline Trio and the Eurythmics).
The lyrics are not even deserving of their own paragraph. They mostly (read as all) deal with love and a feeling that no one understands you while doing their best to remain easy enough to remember, even for those who’ve only heard them in passing. I’m not surprised by them, but I’m not too disappointed with them. They fulfill their purpose quite well, even if the purpose is a banal one.
At the end of it all, I feel like Jason Batemen in the famous Arrested Development
scene wherein he opens the bag in his fridge marked “Dead Dove. Do Not Eat.” and remarks “Well, I don’t know what I was expecting.” Because I shouldn’t have been surprised by Skiba’s attempt to take the sound Alkaline Trio are famous for and water it down with pop sensibilities for mainstream consummation. However, Babylon
is too underground to be played on the radio and too tainted by corny pop flourishes to obtain any sort of underground support. It will likely exist in the limbo between both worlds, being heavily uploaded to the Facebook pages of fourteen year old girls. Hardcore Alkaline Trio fans might also enjoy these tracks as filler until the next Alkaline Trio album. Matt Skiba, please do us all a favor and just release these as B-Sides to Alkaline Trio songs instead of filling a whole album with them. At least, throw the synth out the window; there are actually some catchy songs on here, if only they weren’t drowning.