Alkaline Trio are one of my favourite bands. When I was 16, I got a friend to draw me an Alkaline Trio tattoo design on tracing paper, which I planned to get tattooed across my shoulders in whatever studio would turn a blind eye to inking under-age girls. While I am quite relieved that my short-lived enthusiasm for that project prevented me from permanently etching my love for the band on my body, my feelings towards them haven’t really changed. Although I consider Crimson to be a low point in an otherwise sterling back-catalogue, this band rarely fails to please. In recent years Alkaline Trio have moved from being a straight-up punk band with out of tune harmonies and dark lyrics, before every teenage Davey Havok emo wannabe was doing the same thing, to a sophisticated pop-rock outfit.
The last record, Agony and Irony, was a blisteringly beautiful collection of love/pop/misery/loss songs with pristine (auto-tuned?) vocals and catchy choruses to sing along to. It was a hard act to follow and somehow, This Addiction, doesn’t quite do it. Good aspects of the record include the return to simpler, faster punk rock riffs and word plays (Dine, Dine My Darling / The American Scream) a la Goddamnit! era and the disco/Cure-esque experimentation in Eating Me Alive. No doubt about it, this record is infectious and poppy. However, there comes a point when I feel that sinister lyrics about dying, regret, heroin and violence are nearing exhaustion and I need the band to develop in a newer direction, which was what was happening with Agony and Irony. It seems a bit like this record is out of sequence in the band’s development. That being said, if they set out to write catchy pop-punk songs which stir teenage heartache and rebellion, then they certainly achieved that goal. The interplay between Skiba and Adriano still works and the lyrics are as pictorial as ever, plus I think any band who can sing ‘Piss and Vinegar’ so melodically deserve points. Overall, I can’t see how any hardcore Trio fan could be truly disappointed with this offering.