Melodrama is a tactic used best by those with the artistic ability to direct such feelings in a productive way, creating work that is either tongue-in-cheek hilarious or deliciously depressing. However, the Vagrant-based, sappy, emo-skate band Alkaline Trio lacks a discernable sense of humor or the talent necessary to whip the abysmal amount of melodrama dripping from their lyrics into something relatable, rather than laughable. One such example in the liner notes reads: “This music is a map from the depths of the blackest hearts, this black heart filled only with the faintest reflection of life’s blood. A skull awaits you in the center.” This proclamation by Alkaline Trio is just a glimpse at not only their intrinsic psuedo-darkness but also the horrifying level of seriousness that these Chicago natives take themselves to be.
Musically, this collection of six new songs by Alkaline Trio is lacking in originality. While songs like “Fine Without You” are adequate and catchy, it is a little sad that a band in their late 20s cannot get beyond singing about breakups and drinking.
The other band on the bill may be a little less famous but deserving of a spot on the BYO split nonetheless. Though their sound is not very original, reminiscent of bands like the Swingin’ Utters and U.S. Bombs, they articulate their songs well in an energetic frenzy that, at a show, would have the crowd singing along.
Appropriately discovered by Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, this power-punk band keeps their songs short, sweet and appropriately aggressive. Their best work on this split is “TV Song,” which aptly discusses the problematic nature of the evening news singing, “88 killed in a wreck on all the channels and all the pre-sets / Is there some way out or maybe something else on.” Another knock-out is the “Run Around Sue” inspired “All the Way,” which will have you dancing your socks off.
It is always disappointing when a split album is just that: split between the good and the bad. While the label’s previous splits with Leatherface and Hot Water Music, NOFX and Rancid, and Swingin’ Utters and Youth Brigade have all been musical successes, this split will unfortunately not live up to the formidable reputation of its predecessors.
[Brenna Boyce knows how ridiculously hilarious a man wearing a towel, wielding an oven mitt, is.]