Review Summary: Alkaline Trio rediscover their fire...
Since practically the start of their career Alkaline Trio have operated using the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" philosophy when approaching new albums, playing 3 chord punk with a sinister edge (lyrically at least). The problem is not so much that their style is broken so much as over the years and numerous albums it has become slightly stale. This Addiction and Agony & Irony were enjoyable enough but it felt like the band were on auto-pilot. Something needed to be done.
So we arrive at My Shame Is True, the trio's ninth studio album, supposedly dealing with Matt Skiba's recent breakup (that's the ex girlfriend on the cover). This LP turns out is not so much a reinvention but rather a rediscovery of what made them great on albums such as Goddamnit or From Here to Infirmary. For the first time in years Alkaline Trio sound invigorated and excited to be playing. Their sound remains much the same and lyrically nothing much has changed, Matt Skiba sticks to his themes of death, bitterness, loneliness and drugs/drink. However, on My Shame Is True he sounds much more open and vulnerable than on previous efforts which allows these well worn themes to sound fresh and new. Opener She Lied to the FBI is perhaps the best pop-punk song Skiba has ever written. Short and snappy with driving guitar and some wonderful drum work from Derek Grant. Elsewhere, The Temptation of St Anthony shows the lyrical return to form:
"My tender carrion.
The damage has been done,
From the depths of your heart,
To the tip of my tongue."
The song is filled with wonderfully dark imagery that extends to the title of the track and should serve as a reminder to fans why they fell in love with this band.
Despite the questionably quality of previous albums one thing has never changed regarding Alkaline Trio, Dan Adriano's songs will be highlights of the album and this LP is no different. This time around Dan gets four tracks to display his talents and unsurprisingly they are four of the best songs on the album. Album standout Only Love is a punk ballad filled with bitterness ("I hear that the telephone works both ways, think you can make a little effort some day"") that is one of Dan's best songs to date. Young Lovers is another standout with Dan attempting to convince his would-be lover to give herself up to him.
After 15 years in the music industry Alkaline Trio have managed to craft their catchiest LP in a long time (and make no mistake Skiba can write a catchy hook, check out I Wanna Be a Warhol) whilst also retaining their punk edge and black lyrical style. My Shame Is True is Alkaline Trio doing what they do best and having fun whilst doing it and there's no shame in that.