Review Summary: A heart breakingly overlooked album whose merits far outweigh its popularityMaybe I'll Catch Fire
is Alkaline Trio's most overlooked album. This is a strange phenomenon because it's not only one of the Chicago based pop punk trio's best records, but it has their most popular song with fans "Radio." It's really a shame because Maybe I'll Catch Fire
is a unique record that sets itself apart from the rest of Alkaline Trio's discography. It's not as catchy and it doesn't have as many stand out tracks as some of their other albums, but what sets it apart from the rest of Alkaline Trio's discography and pop punk in general is its dark and dreary tone and atmosphere. While Goddamnit
had dark elements it was still a fun pop punk record, Maybe I'll Catch Fire
on the other hand is relentless in depressing the listener and never letting go of the somber mood. Maybe I'll Catch Fire
had Alkaline Trio crossing over to a new direction that they soon abandoned on their next record but did not fail to leave an impression on their fans.
The album starts off rather strangely with "Keep Em Coming," a song that sounds nothing like the rest of the album. Hearing the first track alone one might expect an upbeat album, even more so than the Trio's debut Goddamnit
, but this is not the case. "Keep Em Coming" stands alone in it's optimistic tone. The rest of the album is non stop gloom and it begs the question as to why the Trio would start the album off like this. The odd opening track doesn't hamper the rest of the record as it is soon forgotten.
The most significant change Alkaline Trio went through between their debut and this album is Dan Andriano's growth as a songwriter. On Goddamnit
, Dan's songs served the sole purpose of breaking up the flow of the album and not much else, here his songs truly dominate the album. His three contributions to Maybe I'll Catch Fire
: "You've Got So Far To Go," "Maybe I'll Catch Fire," and "She Took Him To The Lake" are not only three of the best songs on the album, but rank up there with Alkaline Trio's best songs. Dan has a more personal straight forward lyrical style that adds some nice variety to Alkaline Trio's albums. Dan's bass work shines not only in his songs but throughout the entire record and is one of the Trio's best qualities.
Maybe I'll Catch Fire's
biggest strength is the atmosphere it creates. This album unlike the debut is not based around individual songs, but about creating a dark dreary atmosphere that seeps throughout the entire record. The music sets to represent the album as a whole with very few guitar riffs or standout parts. This may sound like a bad thing but it fits the album perfectly and sets up the atmosphere.
Matt Skiba's singing on this record is a lot different than on other Trio records. He's usually at the top of his range and shouting a lot which helps the melancholic feel of the record. Many fans felt Dan's voice was weak on Goddamnit
, fortunately his voice has greatly improved on Maybe I'll Catch Fire
and it's clear he is finally confident in his voice as his singing perfectly melds with the songwriting.
Maybe I'll Catch Fire
is chock full of morbid and angry lyrics. While Goddamnit
had some dark lyrics they were usually dampened with a sense of humor. Most of the time this is not the case as Maybe I'll Catch Fire
is chock full of morbid lyrics with no comic relief in site.
Tuck me in to where it's freezing, tuck me into bed with snakes. Tuck me in with the tarantulas, I wanna let em in my mouth and down my throat to lay their eggs
I've got a big fat ***in bone to pick with you my darling
In case you haven't heard I'm sick, and tired of trying
I wish you would take my radio to bathe with you
Plugged in and ready to fall
There is not a lot of optimism to be found in these lyrics which makes Maybe I'll Catch Fire
a perfect album for sulking in your own bitterness or at least a rainy day.
Alkaline Trio's most popular song amongst fans "Radio" closes the album. Radio is the Trio at their rawest and most emotional and it's no wonder why it resonates with fans so greatly. From it's tender clean guitar riff in the verse to the explosive violent chorus, Radio is a blast of sadness and anger and is relentless in it's bitter tone.
Maybe I'll Catch Fire
makes a statement and is more than just a collection of songs, it's more than the sum of it's parts, it's about the album as a whole and the atmosphere that goes with this cohesion. With ten tracks and no filler the album flows perfectly and each track compliments the rest to create a sense of totality. It really is a shame that this is Alkaline Trio's least favorite album because it's truly a remarkable record that took all the right risks and succeeded. It's so different from the rest of Alkaline Trio's discography and that's what makes it so special. Maybe I'll Catch Fire
stands alone as a dark atmospheric pop punk record that is unfortunately under appreciated, but really struck a chord with the fans lucky enough to have heard it.