Alkaline Trio
Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs


4.5
superb

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
January 23rd, 2024 | 186 replies


Release Date: 01/26/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: we've been subtracting in the dark, now in the dark is where we dance

Hoping for the best from Alkaline Trio over the past fifteen years has been a little like playing hide-and-seek with an imaginary friend, a ghost you can only see when the lights do that stutter-strobe thing. Instances of greatness post-Crimson were frustratingly sporadic and largely thanks to the understated sincerity of Dan Andriano, perpetually struggling to get airtime on albums filled with bland songs and flat production which culminated in career nadir My Shame is True. Even 2018's Is This Thing Cursed?, a return to form with energy to burn, had some lesser cuts peppered between triumphs like the phenomenally catchy "Demon and Division" or emotional powerhouse "Stay"; their latest release, simply titled e.p. was a we're-still-here teaser with two decent songs bookending the all-timer "Radio Violence".

Thank whatever gothic god you choose that the three genre veterans learned all the right lessons from their rollercoaster ride and used them to forge one of their strongest ever records. Zeroing in on the blueprint of "Radio Violence" - jagged, angular guitars propping up an absolutely golden hook - Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs distinguishes itself from its predecessor with a tougher, garage rock sound. With the same production team behind ...Cursed? returning, you can credit the change to the band actually constructing these songs face-to-face in the studio together for the first time since the early days. Fittingly for the final outing with Derek Grant, the band recorded drums to tape first and built the songs from the ground up, a true collaborative process which all but erases the Matt song/Dan song divide they've been using for their entire careers in place of something far more fluid.

This approach also lends itself to a new complexity in song structures, straying away from verses and choruses towards tunes that wind out in spirals and helixes. Matt Skiba takes a much-needed break from his simplistic strumming and shows a surprising aptitude for actually playing guitar, opening "Hot for Preacher" with a flurry that sets the tone for an album unlike any Alkaline Trio have ever made, and digging into a borderline post-hardcore riff for the gritty "Versions of You", with Andriano at his gruffest ceding the stage for a stunning Skiba bridge like an even better evolution of "Is This Thing Cursed?". The two singers trade vocals all over Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs and the payoff is astonishing, with Andriano's entrance in the post-chorus of "Shake With Me" especially rating as one of the band's most euphoric moments, and closer "Teenage Heart" keeping you off guard with its constant shifts in melody, mood and vocalist.

Lyrically Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs does have all the self-deprecating black humour you'd expect - "are you staying in tonight? depressed to the nines" is a particular highlight - but it feels less forced than last time around, with Skiba perhaps overcompensating for his time as a hired gun in John Feldmann's blink-182. Flashes of surreal humour balance the usual darkness, with lines about bulletproof killer robots on "Bad Time" contributing to the feeling of the band's most effortlessly fun single since "Mercy Me", and Andriano's late-album heater "Broken Down in a Time Machine" doing exactly what it says on the tin. The bassist does find time for his usual hard-won words of tough-love inspiration on the lovely "Scars", the latest in a long line of career highlights such as "Settle for Satin", "Only Love", "Fine" and many more; it flows perfectly into the super-gothic "Break", which sounds resurrected off a lost tape straight from the Agony & Irony era, presumably buried in some graveyard populated by crows and statues that move.

It's hard to fault the band for their nearly six-year absence given how well Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs is constructed. There's not a second of fat on this thing, every song contributing to the whole and perfectly sequenced to flow into the next, a compliment it's been hard to extend to Alkaline Trio since their days working with Jerry Finn. With Grant bowing out of the band after decades of service, replaced on the sticks by veteran of Every Single Band Atom Willard, this could either be the start of a new chapter for Alkaline Trio or an end, a late-career renaissance before they change it all up again. Their tenth album accomplishes the rare feat of looking backwards and forwards at the same time, calling back to touchstones from all their major eras and synthesising them into a whole that feels completely new. Somehow heavier but feeling lighter than they have in years, meeting your gaze not with a self-deprecating shrug but a grimace and a snarl, Blood, Hair, and Eyeballs is a perfect sendoff to one of pop-punk's finest drummers and a victory lap for one of the genre's best acts.



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user ratings (134)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


47578 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

out this Friday, really fuckin good stuff here

hangth3dj
January 23rd 2024


759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Looking forward to getting my grubby hands on this even more now, great review.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


18241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i loved Is This Thing Cursed?, so really looking forward to this. review slaps as well.

onionbubs
January 23rd 2024


20588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

fuck yea dude huge writeup. still in disbelief that they topped the last one

Scoot
January 23rd 2024


22173 Comments


how they hell did they improve on ittc lol

Pikazilla
January 23rd 2024


29711 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

they didn't



the singles aren't anywhere as good as the worst tracks on ittc





onionbubs
January 23rd 2024


20588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

as someone who sung ittcs praise at deafening volumes upon release, this entire album bodies sweet vampires



think the other singles generally work better in context than on their own sans versions tho

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


47578 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea Sweet Vampires and I Can't Believe both kinda suck ass lmao, Worn So Thin is also on the weaker end of Dan's stuff. this album clears

onionbubs
January 23rd 2024


20588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

oh i love i cant believe lol

Manatea
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


1918 Comments


This review has convinced me to give this a shot. Awesome write-up. Will report back on album

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


27941 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review!



pop-punk is taking over the front page lately lol... love to see it

Shemson
January 23rd 2024


4156 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don’t believe that this can top ITTC but I’m open minded and excited now

TheTripP
January 23rd 2024


4490 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didn't know this was coming out so soon and boy am I excited

Drifter
January 23rd 2024


20806 Comments


amazing album and review

Project
January 23rd 2024


5814 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cursed was my first Trio experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so happy to get hype for this one

TheTripP
January 23rd 2024


4490 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cursed is great, but I highly suggest checking out some of their earlier albums; especially From Here to Infirmary!

onionbubs
January 23rd 2024


20588 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

cursed has good mourning all over it. def hit that if you havent

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


47578 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good Mourning is essential, I'd also say the s/t covers the essential bases of their early stuff v well

Eric182
January 24th 2024


2 Comments


Super looking forward to this. I was so excited for new gaslight anthem and was very let down. I trust in Skiba.

zaruyache
January 24th 2024


27331 Comments


Blood, Hair, and BALLS

OUGH



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