Alkaline Trio, 'Agony & Irony' (Epic)

6
'Agony & Irony'
Critical Mass
Label: Epic

by Stacey Anderson

Alkaline Trio have always played a bracing strain of emo in which anxiety doesn't just seem spackled on like MAC makeup. And after five dark, swift albums, they tread fretfully toward maturity and make it seem like walking into the light. Singer Matt Skiba, finished with the girlfriend-baiting one-liners, lunges after his fading youth over sharp builds of pop-punk fuzz and keyboard flourishes reminiscent of his Cure-lite side act, Heavens. Once the trio break free and look ahead, as on "Ruin It," they see for miles, with bassist Dan Adriano singing, "I don't wanna let go of my rage / 'Cause it's the salt that brings the taste."

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