Alkaline Trio "My Shame is True"

Written by on April 18, 2013

On my first listen to Alkaline Trio’s ninth album, My Shame is True, I wanted to destroy it. I wanted to twist it and turn it on itself. I wanted to collect every copy of it and throw them into a fire, a sacrifice to the Smoking Popes. I wanted to compare it’s every shortcoming to Goddamnit, Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, Alkaline Trio or even Good Mourning. But I realized that I’d be comparing this album to a different iteration of the band. It would be a disservice to My Shame is True to do that, awful Costello pun be damned. So instead I tried to forget those albums, and approach their new record from a different perspective.

My Shame is True is not bad. In fact, it might be the closest Alkaline Trio has gotten to a record as good as their early releases since Mike Felumlee left the band in 2001, and drummer Derek Grant began to move the band in that moody-alternative-pop-punk/emo-with-tinges-of-bad-goth-rock direction. Though it’s unlikely this record will make it onto my top 10 list for this year, it wouldn’t be on any hypothetical bottom 10 lists, either. Tracks like “She Lied to the FBI” and “The Torture Doctor” are great, and belong among their best. “The Temptation of St. Anthony” follows the formulaic big hook/droning chorus nature of a lot of their songs, and reminds me of “We’ve Had Enough” or “Continental,” which isn’t terrible, but isn’t terribly exciting either.

My Shame is True does suffer from some of the problems that Crimson and Agony and Irony had, though. Among these great songs are droning, one or two minute too long songs that don’t go anywhere, aren’t interesting and only support themselves on Skiba’s moody and generally corny lyrics. “Only Love” comes to mind here, Skiba crooning “How young are you gonna be when you die/I guess I’ve never really thought about that/You’re dying when you start thinking like that/All I know is time is undefeated so far.” I’ve always considered Skiba’s lyrics to be one of the weaker points in the band anyway, so I generally have to give this a pass. His lyrics have always reeked of a pseudo-intellectualism, bad poetry turned into lyrics, hollow and lifeless. They’re just clever enough to seem clever without actually being so.

I went back and listened to Goddamnit recently, an album that I would easily categorize within my top 25 albums of all time. Dan Andriano’s most notable track on there “Enjoy Your Day,” is a fucking disaster compared to his contribution to My Shame is True with “Young Lovers.” While I would put the track solidly in the middle if I made a best to worst list of this collection of tracks, it is about a thousand times better than the sloppy, sobbing track that “Enjoy Your Day” is. I’ve never really gotten into any of Andriano’s solo stuff, and thought his song contributions to Alkaline Trio’s records were mediocre at best, but “Young Lovers” is solid.

Overall, I think I’d have to give My Shame is True a 6, about four points higher than I ever thought I’d give an Alkaline Trio record post-Good Mourning. The album is streaming in it’s entirety on YouTube, Consequence of Sound, and Spotify. Listen to it there, but I wouldn’t recommend buying it.

Alkaline Trio’s My Shame is True is out now in Epitaph Records.





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