|All Songs Ranked: Alkaline Trio (20-1)|
Agony and Irony
20. Burned is the House
Perhaps one of the pop punkiest tunes the band has ever brought us this is melodically one of the best tracks Dan has ever brought us. It’s also one of Dan’s strongest lyrical moments especially with the lines “if you’d cry me a river you could baptize me in” really showing his incredible growth as a songwriter. And in usual Alkaline Trio fashion it’s ridiculously catchy front to back containing one of the best choruses Dan has ever penned. It’s ridiculous to think of how much better Agony & Irony would’ve been if this song had been there instead of “Live Young, Die Fast” as its maybe the most baffling omission from an album in their entire discography.
19. Jaked on Green Beers
One of Remains’s most baffling omissions from an actual Trio album. Every aspect of this song is reinforcement as to why I love this band. From the pounding and tightly performed drums to Dan’s great bassline, to Skiba completely flying off his hinges at the end to its bitter lyrics reflecting on a collapsed relationship this is yet another example of what makes Alkaline Trio one of if not the best the genre has to offer.
Maybe I'll Catch Fire
18. She Took Him to the Lake
This is both Dan’s highest energy track on Maybe I’ll Catch Fire and his best. Dan writes his lyrics in the form of narrative about reflecting on a past relationship in the third person and paired with the general pop punky feel of the song it fits the tone very well. On top of that the song is absolutely addicting front to back possibly winning the title of the catchiest song Catch Fire has to offer.
2:24 minutes of raw unbridled energy. Kicking off their discography the best possible way this track is the highest opening track on the list. Skiba is completely unhinged here delivering his most explosive vocal performance to date. Glenn Porter pounds the fuck out of the drums and the track contains some of Dan’s best playing yet. Essential in every sense of the word
Another seemingly classic Trio cut that somehow didn't make it on a proper album. One of Skiba's last truly great efforts lyrically this song is among the most memorable that he’s ever written. The mood is set by a vocal sample as the panning guitars gradually build into yet another infections riff from the band. Paired with one of Skiba’s most memorable choruses and yet again another widely regarded classic Trio cut that absolutely deserves that title.
"Clavicle” is a perfect example of what makes Goddamnit from a sonic perspective such a fucking phenomenal album. High energy paired with outstanding pop sensibilities. This song instrumentally is among their faster paced and rawer songs while also being paired with some of Skiba’s best vocal melodies. The lighter hearted lyrics fit the tone of the song perfectly and Skiba delivers them with a fuck ton of conviction as he always does on this album. The design of the chorus works in the songs favor perfectly as it dips in intensity at the beginning as the instrumentation becomes much more subdued as Skiba delivers the lines “I wanna wake up naked next to you kissing the curve in your clavicle” before the entire band smashes back in as Skiba yells “kissing your clavicle” before the main riff kicks in again ramping the intensity back up to 11. I fucking love it.
Containing probably the 2nd best chorus on the entire album this song sees in its chorus Dan and Matt singing in unison. As usual Dan’s lyrics are fantastic but what really pushes it over the edge is Matt’s throat searing delivery during the chorus, and accompanied by the incredible as usual drumming from Derek Grant you have a song that showcases what each member of the band does best put together in a perfect package.
The highest track on Crimson to make the list, this is the perfect example of all the studio polish used on their mid to late 2000s albums done right. This has probably the richest atmosphere of any Alkaline Trio song, from Skiba’s layered delay laced guitar work to the synths that fill up the background. And it works perfectly with the song. This is lyrically definitely Crimson’s highlight as well, being about Susan Atkins, with a spoken word sample of her talking placed in the middle of the song before the epic payoff at the end accompanied by gorgeous string arrangements and some of Skiba’s richest sounding guitar work yet. From a purely compositional standpoint this is easily among the best the band has ever made.
12. Every Thug Needs a Lady
Easily Dan’s top song off of Good Mourning this track contains some of his most heartwarming and sincere lyrics. Amidst the darker slightly gothier tone Skiba (and in places Dan does as well) brings to the record Dan still is able to pen one of his most genuine and beautiful songs yet lyrically. An incredibly touching tribute to his wife this is definitely one of the most loving songs Dan has ever written (up with “From This Oil Can” off his solo album). As per usual, the song is accompanied by an incredibly catchy melody that reaches its peak at the end of the song, which is up there with Dan’s absolute best moments. All in all one of the best songs he’s ever written.
From Here To Infirmary
11. Take Lots of Alcohol
From Here to Infirmary is definitely among Dan’s best work, with this being his 2nd best track on the album. Opening with one of his best drum performances the song breaks into one of the bounciest feeling Alkaline Trio cuts there is. A strong example of Dan’s expert lyrical skills this song paints the image of a therapist visit more accurately than any other song I’ve heard that tackles the subject. Dan’s lyrics here first show him feeling more welcomed (that’s a really nice suit this is a really comfortable chair) but then he gradually reveals his problems as he feels less and less comfortable (this is a really uncomfortable air) building to the closing lines “been telling myself these jokes for so long I’m a has been who is heckled on this stage” which are among his strongest lyrics to date. The fact that this song isn’t even in the top 10 is a massive testament to how fucking stellar the top 10 are. This is easily among the best songs Dan ever penned
10. Sorry About That
One area where Alkaline Trio rarely disappoints is album closers. In fact over half of the top 10 are such. And the closer to their epic debut Goddamnit certainly lives up to the standards set by the other tracks. The dark humor is gone. The fast tempos are gone. It’s just Skiba, an acoustic guitar, and pure fucking emotion, a formula Skiba would later try yet again to even greater success. This song is one of the most heartfelt songs that Skiba has ever penned as he mourns over a broken relationship, but not in the self-pitying way he seems to only know how to do now. He longingly reflects on his past relationship, singing the lyrics “and we passed out in each other's arms both admitting we'd never felt better never felt so warm but awoke in each other's eyes without wearing a stitch of clothing we were both deeply in disguise” in probably his frailest delivery yet. It really is one of the most memorable moments of their body of work
From Here To Infirmary
9. Another Innocent Girl
Although Dan improved dramatically from Goddamnit to Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, he reached a whole new level on From Here to Infirmary as far as lyrics go, and this remains one of his best lyrically. It’s pushed over the edge by his fantastic melody writing until everything reaches its absolute peak at the very end of the song with the closing lines “it's way too easy to fake this smile lead you on maybe I'm wrong but everyone gets bored once in a while”.
From Here To Infirmary
The second highest Dan cut on the list, “Crawl” is the best example of how Dan has grown as a songwriter on Infirmary. The song has a darker moodier feel in comparison to the rest of the album (a sound they’d explore more on the following album) and Dan’s depressive alcohol soaked lyrics only enhance the tone even more. After the infectious chorus towards the end the whole song slows down as Dan repeats “I don’t know who your boyfriend is” while the instruments build up to an explosive and emotional conclusion that continues the trend of Alkaline Trio often ending their albums on the highest note possible.
7. All On Black
Arguably Skiba’s melodic peak this song illustrates how perfectly the band was able to pair darker pop elements with their usual pop punk sound on Good Mourning which Skiba’s fucked up vocals only elevate. His throat issues lead to some of his best vocal performances to date and this song shows perfectly how his throat being fucked up made him sound all the more wicked on this record. Lyrically the song is trademark Skiba containing his usual dark humor laced throughout the entire song. Everything about the song is perfectly orchestrated for the mood they try to convey. Dan’s ominous bassline and Derek’s drumroll paired with Skiba’s octave vocals perfectly set the stage for the darker mood of the song. Once the chorus hits Skiba in one of his best moments as a vocalist easily delivers a fucking wicked performance paired with one of the best melodies he’s ever written
Maybe I'll Catch Fire
6. Fuck You Aurora
One of Alkaline Trio’s slowest and most gut wrenching songs, this track perfectly shows the darker mood Maybe I’ll Catch Fire has in comparison to its predecessor that for me makes it the strongest effort in their entire discography. The morbid humor is still here (“you had to be the cutest gravedigger I’ve ever seen”) but there’s a greater sense of self-pity and misery that fills the track in a way that not much other Trio does. This song lyrically paints Skiba at his lowest, finding his “stupid self stumbling through crowded bars” and how “all these I’m sorry’s and I miss you’s are useless he fucked this one up long ago” and how after the collapse of this friendship has negatively affected him resulting in his self-pity. It’s one of their most moving songs easily and a perfect example of Skiba’s ability to blend morbid humor with self-loathing in a way not many other lyricists can
The highest Dan song on the list and by a considerable margin the highest cut from This Addiction to make the list. “Fine” is perhaps among the most beautiful tunes the band has ever penned, with Dan reaching his melodic and lyrical peak. Even with all the dark yet clever metaphors about “all the stars in the world that can’t steer him out of this kiddie pool” there’s something very optimistic and hopeful about the song. Even with all the struggles he faces he just accepts it and still fights through it, shown in the end of the second verse with “it’s a chronic pain in my ass but no it’s not a burden”. And the closing lyric of “and I wouldn’t trade my hand for all the aces in the deck” paired with the repetition of “I’m fine” makes the track even more heartwarming. Even on the band’s worst album, they still managed to release one of the best songs of their career and it shows how far Dan has come since Goddamnit, as this is in my book his peak as a songwriter.
4. Blue in the Face
Similar to the formula of “Sorry About That” this song contains some of the most fucking heart any Alkaline Trio song has to offer. While Skiba’s fucked up throat on Good Mourning lead to some of his most evil sounding vocal performances here being used with nothing but an acoustic guitar it makes Skiba sound all the more emotionally fragile and broken which matches the tone of the song perfectly. It’s an absolutely haunting and gorgeous acoustic cut that his tortured and strained vocals make all the more heartbreaking. With the dark humor on this track gone the lyrics are much more direct that in the context of this song works incredibly well, with lines like “can’t say I blame you when you kept it all inside when you left that night” and “I don’t dream since I quit sleeping and I haven’t slept since I met you” making it all the more emotional. When he wants to Skiba sure fucking knows how to tug at the heartstrings.
3. Trouble Breathing
Lyrically this is Skiba’s peak. He blends the humorous with the heart wrenching in a way unparalleled to anything he’s done before or after it. Dealing with his friend’s suicide he jumps from comedic lines “look at all those stars look at how goddamn ugly the stars are” to the harsher “it’s one or another between a rope and a bottle” delivering every lyric with a fuck ton of conviction. He and Dan both handle the chorus singing different parts at the same time and it’s one of the only instances where Dan and Matt’s vocal tracks on that album effectively play off one another. All of this builds to the end of the track with the repetition of “don’t forget to let your life rot you inside out” gradually building in intensity in usual Alkaline Trio fashion making for an absolute masterpiece of a song. Pair that with the fantastic cleaner more subtle beginning of the song before the song gets kicked up to 11 further solidifying this being one of the band’s best
Maybe I'll Catch Fire
And here it is. This song is probably the most common pick amongst fans for their best song and for a fucking good reason. Skiba once again perfectly blends his morbid humor with a fuck ton of heart and emotion that bleeds throughout the song. Aside from the iconic opening lines (shaking like a dog shitting razorblades) the song contains some of his strongest and most recognizable lyrics such as “if Columbus was wrong I’d drive straight off the edge”. And of course the explosive chorus is possibly the best they’ve ever written, containing one of Skiba’s most emotional vocal performances. Paired with a gorgeous and haunting clean guitar riff through the verses and you have a song that would easily be the best any other band has to offer.
Going into this list I changed around the top 5 more than any other section of the list. Numbers 5-2 are practically interchangeable for me. However, this song was always my contender for number 1 and is a strong contender for my favorite song period. Everything I love about this band is showcased in top form. But what really pushes the song ahead of all the rest comes around the 3 minute mark where all the instruments cut out besides the bass and Skiba’s vocals, as he repeats “I don’t deserve this” over and over again as he and the instrumental gradually rise in intensity until the song reaches its emotional peak and wraps up with a massive payoff that is hands down my favorite moment in the entire Alkaline Trio discography