The genre of ‘pop-punk’ has had a pretty rough ride recently. While undeniably successful, bands such as Sum 41, Good Charlotte, and Avril Lavigne embody the corporate values that Joe Strummer and Johnny Rotten attempted to consign to the musical grave all those years ago.
However, the Alkaline Trio are not your average pop-punk band. They specialise more in ‘emo’, which apparently stands for ‘emotional hardcore’. Although most of the songs on Good Mourning are far too catchy to be described as hardcore, they are a breath of fresh air nevertheless.
The trio stare out from the front cover clad all in black donning shades, rather like extras from The Sopranos auditioning for a Matrix film. So no wacky coloured hair or t-shirts with ties for these chaps then. The music too, while certainly radio-friendly, is reassuringly heavy with some melancholic undertones.
The songs and vocals are shared between Matt Skiba and bassist Daniel Andriano – on the whole Skiba’s songs are more immediate and the more impressive. It’s the lyrics that really stand out though – Skiba specialises in relationship breakdown songs and the tone is set by This Could Be Love – “step one, slit my throat/step two, play in my blood”. It sounds fantastic, although maybe not one to listen to with a hangover.
This rather dark tone is prevelant throughout Good Mourning – although they find time to raise a smile (“you know all my best singers have stolen all of my best lines”) or just be die hard romantics (“Emma appeared like an angel, Emma appeared like rain”).
The relentless pace never lets up, with the majority of the songs sticking to the ‘furious guitars’ template. If you’re a fan of this, then it won’t bother you in the slightest, but it could prove tiresome if you’re after something with more variety. The one break is Andriano’s acoustic ballad If We Never Go Inside which, although good, doesn’t have the impact of the more punky songs on here.
Good Mourning probably won’t register much over here, but it’s easy to imagine the Alkaline Trio building up a reputation over in America. The big question is whether the band want to break into the mainstream – there’s enough material on here to suggest they could do but it sounds like they’d be happier being underground sensations. For those in the know, this makes a satisfyingly heavyweight change from the ‘Sk8er Boi’s’ out there.