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Alkaline Trio – My Shame Is True

on April 12, 2013, 12:01am

Over the years, Alkaline Trio has moved away from their punk roots to explore more radio-friendly pop-punk anthems. New release My Shame Is True returns to a raw punk aesthetic that recalls the Chicago rockers’ reckless 1998 debut, Goddamnit!, but soft-hearted ballads take away from the album’s energy.

Album opener “She Lied to the FBI” soars on a contagion of snotty choruses that ooze with passion and technicality from every note. What’s more refreshing, however, is the band’s divorce from cliche punk-pop melodies on “The Temptation of St. Anthony”, in which its refrains are led by bass solos and the guitars strum up suspense. Rise Against singer Tim McIlrath contributes next with a guest spot on “I, Pessimist”, a lyrical call-and-response that delivers in-your-face harmonies alongside bassist Dan Andriano.

But My Shame is True loses its momentum on its poppier tracks. Songs like “Kiss You to Death” and “Until Death Do Us Part” fail the record by relying on increased vocal levels and reflective, heartbroken lyrics, ignoring the band’s collective intensity. The vocals come off forced, or simply spoken, and the instrumentation hits the back seat, resulting in songs that are just as forgettable as they are unnecessary.

On “I Wanna Be a Warhol”, Matt Skiba airs his ambition to be “a piece of history,” and although this isn’t a punk classic, My Shame Is True comes out swinging as Alkaline Trio’s strongest effort since 2008’s Agony & Irony. Almost 18 years into the game, they’ve trumped the idea that they’re jaded or dried out, and, for better or worse, they’re no longer the gnarly outfit playing in the name of beer and bar fights.
Essential Tracks: “She Lied to the FBI”, “The Temptation of St. Anthony”