Sensing the tone
While Alkaline Trio‘s ‘heart and skull’ imagery can make everything seem dark, My Shame is True is surprisingly one of their lightest albums to date. Tonally at least, the first few songs have a hint of Green Day and Blink 182’s ‘skate punk’ about them, though by track 5, ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony’, play has returned somewhat to normal.
Unlike Green Day, who’s momentum has dipped in the past few years, the band haven’t veered off in any extreme direction. Previous album This Addition was designed to bring the band back to their roots, but arguably without that goal in mind, the album they have produced here proves to be more effective.
Keeping it simple
Based around the theme of relationships, the album reflects leading man Matt Skiba’s recent troubles with love, and delivers songs with messages relatable enough to connect with fans young and old alike.
Opener ‘She Lied to the FBI’ is a fairly basic pop-friendly anthem, but one which states the band’s case for the record without giving too much away. By the half way point ‘I, Pessimist’, which features Rise Against‘s Tim McIlrath, the momentum is really flowing, and doesn’t really let up until the more relaxed and reflective closing tune ”Till Death do us Part’.
Instrumentally the band have pushed things up a notch since the past album, with Derek Grant’s drums in particular standing out as well as a smattering of synth here and there for effect. Production is still much more stripped down than the days of Crimson though, and the album feels more ‘real’ for it.
Pleasing the crowd
The songs need time to grow before they really become sing-a-longs. Don’t expect to find the next ‘Stupid Kid’, ‘Private Eye’ or even ‘Mercy Me’ hidden here, but there is a lot to like. Dan Andriano gets front-runner time once again on songs such as ‘Young Lovers’ and ‘I’m Only Here to Disappoint’, on top of the almost duet with McIlrath on ‘I, Pessimist’.
The balance works well, as it always has, and Andriano has the strength it lacked on older numbers like ‘The Poison’. Skiba pushes the envelope too, wailing his way through ‘The Temptation of St. Anthony’ in true battle cry style, really wearing his heart in his throat.
For those new to Alkaline Trio this as excellent entry point. The album takes the best of the latter days of higher production values and more confidence and variety in instrumentation, but still holds on tightly to the emotion and relatability of its songs that the band made their name on.
James Michael Parry