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Album review: Alkaline Trio, 'This Addiction'

February 23, 2010 |  2:40 pm

For an album that takes most of its imagery from foil-darkened heroin dens, Alkaline Trio's "This Addiction" feels more like a sugar high than an opiate.

The goth-tinted punk band, credited for better or worse as one of emo's progenitors, long paired sly, cartoonishly bleak lyrics with downright chipper melodies. "Addiction" is its clearest distillation of that formula in years, and will remind a lot of prodigal fans about singer Matt Skiba's songwriting strengths.

Alkaline Trio has never been as evil as they imagined, and their obsidian sheen has sometimes bogged down their tunes. Not so here: "Dead on the Floor" imagines Buddy Holly's sock-hop rock as a delicious romance-is-murder ballad, and "Eating Me Alive" drags up '80s-era Cure synths that could run your mascara from 100 yards away. "Dine, Dine My Darling" is a witty Misfits homage, appropriate for a band built on two-minute pop tunes about suicide and vampires.

The album is a pointedly minimal production, though -- most tracks are simple guitar-bass-drum affairs with a few tasteful harmonies that put the surprisingly durable hooks up front.

Alkaline Trio may have a mouthful of purloined pills here, but Skiba's tongue is perfectly in cheek on his band's best album in years.

--August Brown 

Alkaline Trio
"This Addiction"
Three stars