Review Summary: Torment and Coincidences
Three years after the Trio experimented with a more alt rock sound with Crimson,
they dropped their first major label outing on the world: Agony and Irony, which expanded on their new sound and brought the band to a wider audience. The trio expanded on the more alternative rock direction, but removed a lot of the darker elements fans have grown to love resulting in the band's brightest and happiest sounding album to date. The biggest problem is how Alkaline Trio went from being one of the best pop-punk bands to being a run of the mill alternative rock band. There's nothing wrong with the record, it even has probably the least amount of filler of any trio record. There's just something missing, there's nothing all that remarkable about Agony and Irony.
Agony and Irony
has more complex song structures and blending of instruments than any other record before. This would be fine, but Matt Skiba just doesn't have enough guitar chops to make a truly satisfying alternative rock type record. The song structures may be more complex, but they're filled with the same pedestrian guitar work of previous albums. It's fine to get by on power and octave chords when you're plying pop-punk, but it's not unreasonable to expect a little more on this type of record. They at least fixed the production problems from Crimson, likely because of a much higher major label studio budget. The overall sound is much fuller, with many guitar and vocal tracks littering the record, which help define songs like "I Found Away" and "Lost and Rendered." They also took off the double tracking on Dan's voice that sounded terrible on Crimson. Agony and Irony
is a perfect example of how all the studio tricks in the book can't save an album if it just isn't that interesting in the first place.
Songs like "Calling All Skeletons," "I Found Away," and "Love Love, Kiss Kiss" are among the lower end of the band's best, but the rest hovers around just good without being remarkable. Overall, Agony and Irony
isn't one of the band's best albums, but it certainly isn't the worst; that honor goes to This Addiction.