Songs. Your band can look however you want, do whatever you want and can be the gawkiest guys and girls in town but if you have songs, no-one will care. Songs will cut through all that marketing flim-flam and PR bullshit and get you stuck in the heads and hearts of fans in a way that nothing else truly can. Alkaline Trio are a band who have written consistently brilliant, zeitgeist-capturing songs across their 15 year career. Between Matt Skiba’s shrill rasp and Dan Andriano’s lisping drawl they are a band possessed of a distinct, distinguished sound and have a penchant for putting together narratively compelling and unspeakably catchy pop punk with both a head and a heart.
So what of ‘My Shame Is True’ then? Well, from the get go fans of the band will be pleased that the Chicago three-piece have returned to a more stripped down sound that they to an extent lost around the ‘Agony And Irony’ era. Opener ‘She Lied To The FBI’ rattles into view with a punch and vigour that many bands on their eighth studio album would find hard to muster, and with their stall firmly set out they plough headlong into a selection songs that would sit happily alongside material from ‘Maybe I’ll Catch Fire’ or ‘From Here To Infirmary’. High praise indeed.
‘I’m Only Here To Disappoint’, led by bassist Andriano’s unmistakable tones, feels like vintage ‘Trio, full to the brim with self loathing psychoanalysis but portrayed with enough lyrical dexterity that it never feels overly self-indulgent of teen-angst ridden. A guest turn from fellow Windy City native Tim McIlrath of Rise Against on ‘I, Pessimist’ offers an injection of real molotov-cocktail anger, but in truth it is Skiba who is the star throughout; songs like ‘The Torture Doctor’ see him on absolutely imperious form and showing what can be done with just three chords and a vivid imagination.
The best things about Alkaline Trio persist on ‘My Shame Is True’, the stories the band tell suck you in and make you care about their protagonists whilst steering well clear of the obvious lyrical cliches that blight so much music of this kind. Forget everything else though, it is the songwriting on this record which make it as good as it is. Across this LP’s twelve tracks there is a barely a duff moment and the scary thing is it is hard to see the band ever losing that ability, so long is their streak of consistency. If you are a pre-existing fan then you will find much to enjoy here, but more importantly if you are a sceptic who thinks pop punk is a baser pleasure reserved exclusively for the under 16s, you could do a lot worse than check this album out.