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Album Review

Crimson is the best next step for Alkaline Trio. It keeps Good Mourning's blacks and reds and crack melodic sense. But it's also much more accessible with its measured aggression, rich piano (courtesy of Jellyfish and studio veteran Roger Manning), and production from Jerry Finn, who's worked with blink-182 and the very-relevant-to-Alkaline Trio Jawbreaker. Like those groups Alkaline Trio has grown away from punk-pop; they've grown up. On 1998's Goddamnit!, Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano let out rowdy "woah-woahs" and wished things like "I wanna wake up naked next to you." But then that happened, and the other side of the bed wasn't as pretty. By Mourning they were dealing with death metaphors and painful levels of self-medication. Crimson has a similar sense of emotional brokenness, but things never get so heavy that you'll need the goth eyeliner — the album's pop sense glimmers steadily beneath its dour shroud. "Poison" and "Time to Waste" downshift into powerful choruses despite lines about dead eyes and meaninglessness, "Mercy Me" and "Dethbed" rock self-hate and cynicism over propulsive beats, and "Prevent This Tragedy" incorporates a keyboard descent that's a perfectly pretty foil for a line like "the flames of hell they give me hope." As great as Alkaline Trio are at relating their booze and blood-spattered lives to listeners, it does get a little tedious. But Skiba and Andriano's interlocking harmonies never flag, and the band's rhythms are just too catchy throughout. Let's see. They're writing smart, bright, punk-derived pop, but they're black and white and blocky-featured, and they like Depeche Mode much more than Duran Duran. That settles it — Alkaline Trio are the bizarro-world Killers.


Formed: 1997 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed by ex-Jerkwater and Traitors drummer Matt Skiba (vocals/guitar), former 88 Fingers Louie percussionist Glenn Porter, and Rob Doran (bass/vocals), Alkaline Trio was brought together in 1997 by heartbreak, angst, and the companionship of drinking. The original lineup issued a short EP, For Your Lungs Only, just prior to Doran's departure in late 1997, and Sundials followed one year later on Johann's Face Records. Slapstick's Dan Andriano climbed aboard to handle bass duties, adding a complementary...
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