Album Review: Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?

It’s their first new music in five years and it’s damn good. 

Illinois punk outfit Alkaline Trio last released new music in 2013 with My Shame Is True and now they’re back. Is This Thing Cursed? will be a favorite for old and new fans, and those who found Alkaline Trio via Matt Skiba’s joining of pop-punk titans Blink-182.

If you love punk, Alkaline Trio are very likely at the core of your record collection. Having formed over twenty years ago, the band have since released eight studio albums, each of which furthered their role in shaping a gloomy and sarcastic, emo-tinged punk rock scene.

With autumn just around the corner, and the best season of the year almost in reach (yes, Halloween is THE best thing of the year), Is This Thing Cursed? comes just in time to get us in the mood for all the ghouly, ghostly feels.

Vocalist and bassist Andriano says about the album: “The songwriting process is almost like what it was back in the day. We would just kind of write a song, be excited about it, then move on. We wrote in that spirit in the studio. I really feel like we made a record that the old school fans are going to dig.”

The record jumps right into the title track, opening with an eerie, low bass line the story line is set before the drums kick in and you instantaneously get the Alkaline Trio sound you know and love.

Second single, and second track on the album, Blackbird, has a hint of rockabilly to it with a beat and hooks for days. It’s followed by latest single Demon and Division. There’s this signature bass line again, whirling its way through the record before Matt Skiba’s vocals take us to that catchy chorus again.

Little Help will put a huge smile on your face and make you look forward to that mosh pit, because let’s face it, it’s the ideal song! It’s a punk song about getting high, that is quite literally all you need to know about it.

Of course, the current political landscape doesn’t pass Alkaline Trio by. I Can’t Believe is about the (in)famous Access Hollywood tape we’ve all come to know. “Someone please do something, something’s wrong. He’s no longer breathing but singing along.” Isn’t that just what we’re all thinking?!

Sweet Vampires is one of the most pitch-black, heartache track on the album. It’s also one of the most old-school Alkaline Trio song on Is This Thing Cursed?. It impresses especially with the punk-rock drums.

The angry guitar riffs at the beginning of Goodbye Fire Island set the scene for what’s to come. At its core, the tune takes influence from the now infamous Fyre festival (you know the one that was outed as fraudulent and cost a lot of good people their hard-earned money?). But it’s much more than just that. Skiba calls out the state of the environment at the same time, more specifically the horrific state of the ocean thanks to all the plastic we use.

If you want your face melted off, Throw Me To The Lions is for you. Explosive drums and killer riffs give off enough energy to set the world on fire if you play it loud enough. Leading right into closing track Krystaline. The acoustic guitar and Skiba’s vocals make it one of the most heartwrenching songs on Is This Thing Cursed? It’s so desperate and heartfelt, you will literally feel your heart getting sad. At a little over two minutes the vocals and guitar fade out into some dark synths, making you feel even sadder.

With Is This Thing Cursed? Alkaline Trio have delivered an epic album that you can love to bits and pieces, your little punk emo soul will devour every part of it. Its iconic songwriting and dark and grungy lyrics are everything you were waiting for. 

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