While we’re happy for the legacy of Blink 182 to carry on its reign with Matt Skiba, Alkaline Trio have been sorely missed since 2013’s My Shame Is True but have now finally returned with a full length album. Is This Thing Cursed? dropped today via Epitaph Records. After conspiracies about Alkaline Trio no longer existing for frontman Skiba to tour and write with Blink, the album has come as a surprise to many. Despite ‘Blackbird’ and title track ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’ releasing as singles prior to the album, the band has seemingly became a distant memory in the eyes of many fans, with people almost giving up hope of their return. Since their humble beginnings of goth aesthetic and hauntingly poetic lyrics, Alkaline Trio have almost fallen back to their roots with ominous ambience. If there’s one thing Alkaline Trio have always been good with, it’s the visual representations in their lyrics that push boundaries in an edgy, doleful sort of way.
Is This Thing Cursed? is comprised of 13 songs in total, and their charm of buoyant melancholy dominates the overall album. The attractiveness of Alkaline Trio predominantly comes from an almost tongue-in-cheek look at hopelessness, and ever since their 2005 goth aesthetic peak with Crimson the new album brings back a feeling of excitement. Whether it’s because Skiba’s adventure into a lighter, more publicised and known band intercepted what we thought we knew, or that the diverted attentions of band members and their side projects have brought a feeling of “is this just to keep their name alive?”, Alkaline Trio’s latest instalment is a reminder of their brilliance that engaged with us in the first place. Historically hung up with angst, bitter emotion and emblematic despondency, Is This Thing Cursed? feels closer to the From Here To Infirmary era, implementing near vintage sounds representative of early punk rock.
Aside from the two pre-release singles that admittedly holds the spotlight, one of the best tracks on the album is ‘Sweet Vampires’ consisting of corrugated riffs creating fierce and combative attitude. With such a portfolio of tracks, each plays and appeals in their own ways, for example, final track Krystalline is a heartsick love story in poetic fashion, holding onto perplexing undertones to give it that cut-throat edge. ‘Stay’ is another favourite, due to its moving fluency instrumentally that really compliments the vocal style. Andriano’s voice has been known to be hit or miss, with people often referring to it as monotone, but there are tracks throughout Alkaline Trio’s discography that enhances his tone, almost augmenting into something new, and ‘Stay’ is a track that does this incredible justice. The vocal switches balances the album immensely, such as ‘Heart Attack’ with Skiba’s unctuous chords telling morbid tales of adversity. It’s one of the best tracks to throw you back between 2001 – 2005 Trio, emphasising that horror goth decorative.