You can’t curse something that’s so well executed, and Alkaline Trio has proven this with their latest album, Is This Thing Cursed?
You would have been forgiven for thinking the band were dead in the water when, in 2016, Matt Skiba ‘jumped-ship’ to ‘fill-in’ for another famous pop-punk three piece (to very mixed results), but there’s nothing like being proved wrong. Two years have passed since Califorina, and a massive five years since Alkaline Trio’s last studio album, 2013’s My Shame Is True, but you wouldn’t think it on this evidence. Even as they move beyond their second decade as a band (let that sink in for a moment), Skiba, Andriano and Grant are still managing to show something new. Bands, especially punk bands, existing in a time of the birth of Nu-metal and explosion of pop-punk would most likely be content with merely some minor-continuity in releases, eventually going out the way they want – Alkaline Trio are not that sort of band.
Is This Thing Cursed? is simply relentless. From the opening title track to ‘Little Help’ to ‘Worn so Thin’, the energy on show is almost adolescent in its tenacity. However, it’s the experience they have under their belts that shapes that fire into something memorable.
Between the brilliance of Skiba and Andriano’s singing, there are lyrics that not only solidify their position in punk history, but give depth in content with writing. The alternating and combined vocals from two of the trio are brilliant, and when singing lyrics like this, it’s hard not to continue to love these guys; “I tried to throw it in the river, But it washed up in my sink, And now the city cut my water. And it’s all I have to drink, Is this thing cursed?”, and “Don’t tell me to just calm down, Now there’s a shortcut right under my skin, And all I want is to freak out, But my apologies are worn so thin”, are just two examples of the lyrical prowess on show.
Between the energy and angst of each track, there of moments of softness that the band has shown on previous records. From the opening-line sang over piano to the closing verse of ‘I Can’t Believe’ sang over simple guitar strumming, the band balances delicate and angst with precision. Is this thing Cursed? gives you exactly what you want, and more. Alkaline Trio prove (again) they are a force to be reckoned with and they won’t be going away anytime soon.
Is This Thing Cursed? Is out now on Epitaph.