Chicago-punk veterans Alkaline Trio change it up on their eighth album, Damnesia, with acoustic coffee-house re-interpretations of fan-favorite songs of the past 15 years.
Gone on this album is their high-energy distorted pop-punk sound that filled the headsets of skate/ snowboarders and BMXers across America over a decade ago. “You’ve Got So Far to Go” and “Every Thug Needs a Lady” have suddenly adopted a more midwestern folksy feel more suited to the Bonaroo crowd. After initially wondering who nefariously sprinkled the Xanax in my musical cocktail, I took a step back and listened to it again, shedding my strong bias for my favorite AT ass-kicking sounds from Goddamnit and Good Mourning. I’m glad I did. While I still prefer the more driving versions in the originals, their foray into a more mild, even experimental take on their original songs is refreshingly creative, even if it feels like they’re appealing more to my adult sensibilities. Toning back on the distortion also allowed Matt Skiba’s melodic voice to shine greater, as shown on “Blue in the Face” where the somewhat creaky and raspy tone of the Good Mourning version now reveals a smooth and soulfully moving voice. “The American Scream” is now an emotive musing over acoustic piano and snare drum rudiments.
Before anyone writes them off as being put out to pasture, take heed. The driving backbeats from Dan Andriano and Derek Grant on tracks like “We’ve Had Enough” and the Violent Femmes cover of “I Held Her in My Arms” are a cattle-prod reminder that, acoustic or not, these guys are punk at the core.
Overall, this is a gift to AT fans — especially to those who have grown just a tad older, but still have a desire to keep their edge.
Alkaline Trio: www.alkalinetrio.com