Review Summary: How young are you gonna be when you die? / I guess I never really thought about that / You're dying when you start thinking like that
Yes it's that time again, time to be disappointed by the new Alkaline Trio album. This has been an almost decade long tradition since the ambitious albeit underachieving Crimson came out back in 2005. The next two records made Crimson
look pretty strong in retrospect, with Agony and Irony,
whose full blown venture into alt rock proved to be a mixed bag, and the Chicago pop punk trio's last record This Addiction,
which abandoned all progress from the previous two records, and failed miserably at imitating the sound of the Trio's fan favorite record From Here To Infirmary.
Expectations were at an all time low for the Trio's newest release, which is aptly titled My Shame Is True
because the band seems to always be ashamed of their last record, jumping ship from all progress gained from their previous album and striving to sound like early 2000s Alkaline Trio, but mostly failing in the process as usual.
My Shame Is True
could easily be written off as another average release from a once great band if it wasn't for bassist Dan Andriano's excellent songwriting. Dan started off as the least important member of the trio, whose couple songs on the albums would always serve merely as a way to break up the record a little bit. Oddly enough Dan's songwriting has consistantly grown on each record, while Matt Skiba has constantly gotten worse as a songwriter. In fact, Dan's songs are mostly about grown up things like contemplating life and death and his place in the grand scheme of things, and his place in life and all that he's accomplished. On the other hand, Matt constantly brags about how immature he is, like when he proclaims to be "a school boy trapped in a man" in the track "One Last Dance." My Shame Is True
attempts to be a concept album about Matt's recent breakup, but that doesn't really work when you have two songwriters, and the other writer's songs are about completely different things. The complexity of Dan's songwriting, mixed with his mature and contemplative lyrics make the other eight songs which are all about childish ways of getting back an ex lover seem all the more pathetic.
Musically My Shame Is True
is very similar to This Addiction, consisting mostly of power chords and vocal hooks. There are a few interesting parts however, like the three second long bass solo in "St. Anthony," which is probably the Trio's most technical song to date, which isn't really saying much. Alkaline Trio also continue to be "That band with the drummer who's at the wrong show" with Derek Grant's drum work being the only bright spot on most of the tracks. In fact, the sappy, stalker-esque "One Last Dance" would be a complete waste of a song if it wasn't for the stellar drums.
Alkaline Trio are a band who became famous for their dry wit and metaphor laden lyrics. Unfortunately there's absolutely nothing like that on My Shame Is True,
whose lyrics are so straightforward and uninteresting they seem like they were written by a completely different person. The mind numbing break up anthems all build up to the abysmal closer "Until Death Do Us Part" which is all the more depressing considering how many outstanding closing tracks Alkaline Trio have crafted over the years. All I can think about when listening to My Shame Is True
is a high school student trapped in a 37 year old man's body writing in his tear soaked diary about his first break up.
It's really hard to proclaim an album with only six out of twelve great songs as a "good" record, but those six songs really are something special. The two catchy as hell opening tracks "She Lied To The FBI" and " I Want To Be a Warhol" coupled with Dan's outstanding four tracks result is the Trio's best work since 2003's Good Mourning.
Unfortunately Matt Skiba's other six tracks come off as "Please take me back" 3am drunk phone calls that range from nothing special to downright awful. Overall, all My Shame Is True
does is make me hope and pray Matt Skiba's ex has a restraining order filed against him.