Alkaline Trio – Agony & Irony
July 1, 2008
Alkaline Trio’s 6th studio album “Agony & Irony” (play on ‘Ebony & Ivory’?) is released today. Over the course of their previous albums I’ve been quite positive about this band. But lets put things in perspective. Alkaline Trio’s music can roughly be described as a mix of punk/rock, pop and rock & roll. Most of their songs are highly energetic and played with a lot of drive and enthusiasm.
Is that special? I hear you say. In itself, not necessarily, but in my opinion Alkaline Trio is one of the few bands in the punk/rock genre that pays serious attention to the songwriting. It’s not just all about the fun or being the rebel. There are actually creative arrangements and clever lyrics. Not always, sometimes the songs are pretty cliché or standard, but overall, this band shows there is room to be creative within this genre.
They will probably never be a landmark punk/rock band like, for example, Sex Pistols or Stiff Little Fingers were, but of the current generation of punk/rock-rock & roll bands they come in behind Green Day as one of the better bands in the genre.
“Agony & Irony” is more mainstream than the previous albums, the songs are catchy, will probably do really well live and have a good shot at airplay on rock and even mainstream radio. It really isn’t bad but the songs on this album are generally quite slick and slightly overproduced and it makes me miss the rough edges and rawness of their previous releases. I can’t deny that song like Calling All Skeletons, Help Me, Over And Out and Ruin It stick in my head and are catchy as hell, but overall the album doesn’t leave me as satisfied as the previous two albums. “Crimson” already had more of a radio approach than the previous albums but it still felt a little rough round the edges and I felt Alkaline Trio found a good balance on that album. On this new album the scales tip a little more towards a mainstream sound, which, like I said, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but in the process the music loses a little bit of creativity and originality.
The songs on “Agony & Irony” sound good, the songs are tight, the band plays them well and they work together well. Nothing wrong with the execution of the songs, but where the originality and creativity this band displayed in the past is a little harder to find on this newest release. However, with this album there may be mainstream success for Alkaline Trio and they will have more opportunities to get back to the roots of their music and songwriting on a future release. In conclusion, “Agony & Irony” is a solid album, it’s fun to listen to but not the band’s most impressive.