Agony & Irony Review

artist: Alkaline Trio date: 08/25/2008 category: compact discs
Alkaline Trio: Agony & Irony
Release Date: Jul 1, 2008
Label: Epic
Genres: Punk, Alternative-Rock
Number Of Tracks: 11
Eleven more winning tracks of sunny melodies adorned with gloom-filled lyrics from the vampire kings of pop-punk.
 Sound: 7.8
 Lyrics: 8.6
 Overall Impression: 8
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (5) 38 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.3
Agony & Irony Reviewed by: silverymetaller, on july 01, 2008
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: A 3-year waiting, Alkaline Trio's new album, Agony And Irony, was finally released in the early summer of 2008. As revealled in the earlier Agony And Irony EP, "Help Me, "In Vein" and "Into The Night" were the summary of the album. Fast, catchy, dark-lyred pop punk songs, which is something the Alkaline Trio always good at writing, are included in this album as usual; such as "Calling All Skeletons", "I Found Away" and "Love Love, Kiss Kiss". The sound of this album is kinda different from what they did; and if you listen to all their old albums one by one, you will realise that the sound of different albums are different; from the more underground / independent-sound of From Here to Infirmary (and the pervious 2 albums), to the harder sound of Good Mourning and the more mature Crimson. Though, there aren't much songs which can gve you a great impression as what in Crimson can give. So now let's review all the songs briefly. 01. Calling All Skeletons - a catchy, energetic song with typical Alkaline Trio-type lyrics, which is the best thing to start an AT album. 02. Help Me - it's a typical pop punk song with a positive message: There's a "someone" who has chosen to live in his/her own way, and the "I" envy at that and wish that "someone" can save him from his life and gives him the courage to start his own life. 03. In Vein - with Dan Andriano as the vocal, he does has done a great job. It's one of the best among the rest both lyrically and musically. 04. Over And Out - it's a touching ballad about war, which has been righly-positioned -after 3 catchy songs and before another fast pop-punk journey- so that listeners can set back and save the energy for the next song begin. 05. I Found Away - another anti-war song, but with tougher and faster sound. Nice work with good lyrics, a must-listen track. It definitely has the potential to be the next single. 06. Live Young, Die Fast - I have to say it's the worst song in the album. 07. Love Love Kiss Kiss - with Dan Andriano responsible for the vocal again. A typical pop punk song. Not good, not bad, not impressive. 08. Lost And Rendered - a song that deserves high attention in the album. There is an intro which with echo like what appears in the play. That's what make this song stands out from the others. 09. Ruin It - again, Dan Andriano as the vocalist this time. Strangely, the intro sounds similar to one of the Rise Against song (in Sufferer And Witnesses). Sounds pretty good, not strong enough though. 10. Into The Night - with familiar guitar riff after the line "This carrion has been forgotten" (chorus)and between the "into the night... " (the end). maybe just too poopy and cheesy. 11. Do You Wanna Know? - a good closing song with temper speed. It's a very AT and very Crimson-styled song. Again, it's Dan Andriano. // 7

Lyrics: Lyrically they have done a very good job as usual. The most impressive ones must be "I Found Away" (Over the fear and through the flames / I'm diving in don't follow me / Stay right here I'll be back for you someday) and "Ruin It" (But I don't wanna let go of my age / Cause it's the salt, that brings the taste / This scorched and rocky field / Will camouflage my skin). Comparaed to other bands in the same genre, their lyrical composition skill is one of the best out there. You can check out songs like "In Vein", "Lost And Rendered" and part of the "Love Love Kiss Kiss" to prove their writing ability. There are 2 songs which are lyrically awful. "Live Young, Die Fast" - Absolutely cheesy and shallow. "Love Love Kiss Kiss" 's first line in the chorus (Love Love, Kiss Kiss blah blah blah), it's getting annoying when they got repeated over and over again; luckily this song still got a cool bridge and some other lines. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall it's a better-than-average album. An Alkaline Trio fan will love it, while others might find it dull / boring / not impressive. Lyrically it's great while musically is still halfway there. The songs with Dan Andriano as the vocal are great, because in Crimson, his songs are not as stand out as Matt's. If you like pop punk or want something easy-listening to spend your summer on, this album is a pretty good choice. // 7

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overall: 8
Agony & Irony Reviewed by: UG Team, on july 01, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: When Alkaline Trio co-front man Matt Skiba opens their new album singing, Here it is again yet it stings like the first time, the line is really a foreshadow of what's ahead. For the next forty minutes or so, the Chicago outfit cranks out more of the brooding yet always contagious Pop-Punk they've built a small empire on. Just when you get a chance to catch your breath, another blast of catchy, hard-hitting melodies comes screaming out of your speakers! After spending the better part of a decade on indie labels like Asian Man and Vagrant Records, the band caused some controversy by signing to Epic Records which is part of the Sony conglomerate. Many of their fans took to the message boards and cursed the band's name for making the move. The truth is, the boys haven't changed all that much. From beginning to end, the album oozes with the kind of energy that will undoubtedly satisfy even the biggest non-believer at a Warped Tour stop. // 8

Lyrics: Like some kind of Addams Family version of the Goo Goo Dolls, Alkaline Trio is lead by a guitarist and bassist who both write and sing their own material. And like Johnny Reznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba gets more of his material on their albums. The track listing on Agony and Irony is no different. Skiba sings seven out of the eleven tunes this time out. His writing contributions don't disappoint with a few destined for Greatest Hits type of love down the line. The album's first single, Help Me, was inspired by the Joy Division/Ian Curtis biopic, Control and Skiba unleashes some of his most potent hooks on the song's tremendous chorus. The band's arrangement is definitely modern but with vocal lines this strong, Help Me certainly has a timeless quality to it. Lyrically speaking, he visits the familiar themes he's tackled throughout AK3's discography. On Over and Out, Skiba tells the story of a soldier so tormented by his battlefield memories, that he's contemplating suicide. In an interesting twist, the song ends with a message of hope proving it's not all blood and guts for the songwriter. As exhilarating as Skiba's stuff is here, Andriano showed up to the studio with a handful of songs that deserve just as much of the spotlight. In fact, the vocalist/bassist chimes in with the album's greatest track. On Do You Wanna Know? Andriano sings, ...don't leave me out with these mosquitoes/trying to drink up all my wine right before an avalanche of guitars comes crumbling on top of his anthemic chorus. You'll find yourself reaching for the rewind button over and over again; I know I did! Hopefully the suits at Epic realize the song's genius and release it as a single down the road. // 8

Overall Impression: From the pulsating riff-fest of Calling All Skeletons to the driving beat of Into the Night, all of their naysayers' fears of the band selling-out are quelled. Sure, producer Josh Abraham (Korn, Velvet Revolver) wraps their arrangements with the FM radio gloss that you would expect from a major label funded album. But in reality, Agony and Irony isn't that different from their last two efforts in the sonic sense. The band even throws in a few curveballs proving they are willing to take the kinds of stylistic risks that lesser groups wouldn't take. Avant-garde minimalists, Ulver chime in with some string arrangements while Douglas P. of Goth lifers, Death In June provides a spoken word intro for I Found A Way. The power-trio's drummer, Derek Grant puts in a workmanlike performance, never over-playing his parts or getting in the way of Andriano and Skiba's songwriting nuances. His commanding musical presence on tracks like Do You Wanna Know? and In Vein brings to mind AFI drummer Adam Carson's best work. Ultimately, AK3 not only prove their critics wrong with Agony and Irony but they manage to do something much more important. With this new collection, the vampire kings of Pop-Punk have come together to create some of their most thrilling material yet! // 8

- Carlos Ramirez (c) 2008

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overall: 10
Agony & Irony Reviewed by: unregistered, on july 01, 2008
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: At first I was a little sketchy on what this CD would sound like, as it was produced by Josh Abraham (30 Seconds To Mars - Beautiful Lie, Atreyu - A Deathgrip On Yesterday). But I Think it was prolly the most refreshing trio sound of the last few albums. saying as that Jerry Finn had his hand with mixing and producing From Here to Infirmary, Good Mouring, and Crimson. The Band says they tried to make it more organic and actually do have a lot less extras of keyboards, and synth than Crimson. You can still hear some of these parts, but it is all in good taste. At certain parts like at the end of "I found away" it sounds like some of the Cure's Disintigration was used and referrenced, but it fits the songs just fine. A diverse collection of songs, none of the songs have the feeling they don't belong. Alkaline trio is progressing in many ways, most notably is Matt Skiba's Guitar work. Saying as to the point that when Good Mourning was coming out in 2003, matt said he didn't know where a C note was on his guitar. This must have changed, becasue he seams to know what he is doing on guitar more and more. Dan's voice goes through many spectrums, and he show cases his voice a lot more than previous records. A Good record soundwise, above par for people who were worried like myself knowing that AK3 was moving to Epic records for their major label debut. // 10

Lyrics: Anyone who knows alkaline trio knows that the lyrics these guys write are always true and bite into the minds of their fan following. Nothing has changed, there are lyrics on this album that loyal fans will get tattoos of. Back up vocals was in good taste, and written to fit very well. // 10

Overall Impression: One of the best Alkaline Trio albums. prolly the best one since pre-From Here to Infirmary. It is an album, not a CD that is overloaded with songs that are new. It may be only 10 songs, but they go together well. I'm very pleased with these guys. Sellouts? I think not. Keep it up guys, I'm all ears for b-sides (speaking of b-sides, Lost and rendered is stellar at the least). // 10

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overall: 8.3
Agony & Irony Reviewed by: Lyxtwing, on july 24, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: I hadn't heard much about Alkaline Trio as of late other than "sell out" rumors, but I lost interest in those years ago as every band is doomed to them. While playing some of their other albums on winamp I noticed an article about them and thought I would give it a read. The article was about Alkaline Trios appearance on the hills. I've never seen this show, and they mentioned that neither have they which I find somewhat entertaining. What really caught my eye was mention of a new album. Members of the band (can't remember which exactly), spoke of how they went in to the studio not to create another Alkaline Trio album, but simply a good album that they would listen to. Today when I was at the mall for cheap tocos I went to HMV, which sadly is the only place that would carry the album in my town, and picked up my copy of it. The statements they made about making a good album hold true, but if you're looking for another God Damn It you're out of luck. The guitar tones are far less harsh, which is a double edge sword. On one hand the grit of Matts old distortion is lost, shy of a couple hits here and there, but on the other hand it blends in to the mix very well. He seems to also have become a better player (though Dan may have played some of the lines), as the classic down stroked eighth notes are replaced with off beat punchy upstrokes and other more embellished strumming pattern. That said, on a couple features like Ruin It you'll hear some of the classic Alkaline Trio palm muted fun. For the bass lines, Dan keeps his usual balance between adding an element to the music without drawing to much attention to himself. In the past his lines favored open strings when he could get away with it (at least live, could play it different in the studio), often allowing him to make lines sound more complicated than they really are leaving him free to sing either lead or backup without having to simplify his playing at this times. That said, as with the guitar, you'll find many lines of simple eighth note patterns following the root of the current chord. Drums are some of the best I have heard on an Alkaline Trio record. Derek not only has some great fills, but they are thrown into the right spots. Alkaline Trio seems to always be about the lyrics more than the instruments and the drums fit a nice balance of impressive without being over powering. Often taking cues from Dan's bass lines and following the guitar break downs flawlessly. Some of the snare fills amaze me, and you can tell that he had a great deal more freedom than usual. His performance is something I cannot criticize. I've been listening to Alkaline Trio for years and must admit Derek is most likely the most talented musician in the group. All I can really say is that I would like to hear him sing more often. He has done some really nice backups in the past and would love to hear more. That brings me to the vocals. As mentioned Alkaline Trio has always been about the lyrics more than the instruments. The mix on this album is at par with that of Crimson, but with that brings me back to the fact that this is not God Damn It. The vocals are often softer, yet more defined, across the board. Like the guitar tone, this removes a bit of the grit but doesn't really take away from the quality of the performance. The emotion is still there, it is just not anger anymore. Some may not like the "new" sound of this album, but to my ears I have heard this before. Music from the Crimson album and even older albums, including the recently released Remains, have had the synth backed eerily beautiful quality to it that this album has. It's their evolution and some will like it while others wont. I can say for sure that this album may have many elements from past recordings, as a whole it is unlike any that Alkaline Trio have put out to date; something that many said about Crimson when it was first released. // 8

Lyrics: Lyrics are a bit of a tough one for Alkaline Trio these days. The band started out with two singers who were either angry or depressed, which fueled Alkaline Trio's sound and lyrics. Now, years later, after building a successful band and even marrying off, the band is admittedly past that phase. Where other bands make the mistake of holding on to the past and writing about being disenfranchised youths well into their thirties, Alkaline Trio grew up. They've even had songs in the past dealing with this topic, see We Can Never Break Up. This album's lyrics and vocal tone is far less dark than some of the past. There are still darker themes than you'll find on the radio mind you, but no one is wishing their ex would electrocute themselves; though suicide is brought up in a more subtle way. // 9

Overall Impression: I always find a bit of humor behind the idea of a band being a sell out for changing their sound. Now if this is done in order to sell more records this could be argued, but with an album and band like this it can be contradictory. Agony and Irony is different than any previous album released by Alkaline Trio, but is clearly done for artistic reasons. Yes, this does move a bit closer to pop punk than most would like, but it is still far from what would be called "mainstream". Alkaline Trio has evolved into something new with this album. Many will like it, many wont. Some have said it's their best, others their worst. Want to know what I think? Well, I suspect you do if you've read this far. I don't know. Simply, it is a good album. I can't say it's their best because it is hard to compare it to their past releases. Listen to the singles they've put out and see if it is to your taste. Alkaline Trio seems to know there will be a rift, as they have released God Damn It (Goddamnit if you prefer), once again so it's much easier to find. If you don't like Agony and Irony just listen to that and enjoy the fact that they have not forgotten where they came from. // 8

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overall: 7
Agony & Irony Reviewed by: lolmnt, on august 25, 2008
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: I've been a huge Alkaline Trio fan for years, so of course I was extremely excited when I heard that they were releasing a new album.I drove the hour to the CD store a few towns over (I don't have very many CD buying options in my town), bought it, and put it in for my drive home. I was met by the extreme poppiness of "Calling All Skeletons." Although it sounded more polished than the older Alk 3 releases it still maintained the sound I was familiar with. I can't say I'm a fan of the claps though. The same overproduced qualities are found in the next song, "Help Me". Although it is by no means a bad song, it doesn't sound like an Alkaline Trio. After "Help Me" comes Dan's first offering "In Vein." It's a good, fun song. The next song, "Over and Out," is the story of a soldier who is scarred by his memories of the battlefield. It's a typical ballad, but it maintains to keep my attention like a lot of ballads fail to do. Dan's bass line sounds really great, and keeps the flow of the song moving nicely. "I Found Away" is another anti war song, but this one feels like one of the songs on Crimson. It's definitely one of my favorites on the album. "Do You Want to Know?" is Dan's next song. It sounds like an older Alk 3 song, but more polished: it's a solid track. "Live Young, Die Fast" struggles its way out of my stereo next. This song is one of my least favorites due to it's really cliche chorus and boring music. It's a boring song and is almost a guaranteed skip from me. Next up is my favorite song on the album, "Love Love, Kiss Kiss." When I saw the title I thought that it was going to be completely cliche and cheesy, however I was very surprised by it. It's a Dan song, and retains the qualities that I love about the Trio. "Lost and Rendered" is the next track, and it's almost completely different than the previous songs. It has a very big sound, mainly because of the drums. They sound huge. I wouldn't mind if some of my least favorite songs had been replaced with songs like this. The next track is Dan's last, but he makes it count. "Ruin It" is a similar sound to the previous song, which definitely is not a bad thing. The drumming is great; probably the best on the album. The final song, "Into the Night," is decent. It's another that could have been on Crimson. It's a pretty good song, and a good way to finish off the album. Dan's tracks are definitely my favorite songs on the album, which is a first for me. His songs seem more thought out than Matt's songs do. Dan's bass playing is great as usual, Derek's drumming shines at spots, and Matt's guitar work fits every song perfect. None of the instrumentation seems out of place, and the songs flow very nicely. With the exception of some over producing and over polishing (the claps in Calling All Skeletons, the "la la la's" in Help Me, and the ticking clock in Lost and Rendered) the album sounds very good. It's an Alkaline Trio album with a radio polish, which might not appeal to some of the truest fans. // 6

Lyrics: The lyrics are standard Alk3 lyrics. They deal with dark, depressing topics. The albums lead single "Help Me" is inspired by Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. Over and Out is about a soldier so haunted by his time fighting that he is considering suicide. However, it ends with a message of hope. I Found Away is another anti-war song. My favorite lyrics are in the song Love Love, Kiss Kiss. They lyrics flow very nicely, especially the opening line "Take a look you see I painted you a picture it's black and white except the blood's a little richer..." It's about being lonely and sick of seeing happy couples; something everyone can relate to at some point in their life. The lyrics in Dan's songs seem much stronger than Matt's attempts. Some of the lyrics on Matt's songs are really cliche and predictable most noticeably during Live Young, Die Fast. The chorus says it all, "So live young, die fast No one will last so sit back and relax enjoy the crash You're fading to black and you're gone Live young, die fast Die fast." However, the lyrics are up to the standards the boys have set on their previous releases. // 8

Overall Impression: I would definitely thing that this is the Trio's weakest release to date. If you are just getting into the band this isn't a wise record to start out with. I'd suggest Goddammit or Maybe I'll Catch Fire to start with. My main problem with the album is the over production that producer Josh Abraham puts on it, which is what most die-hard fans will think when they hear this album for the first time. The best songs on the album are all four of Dan's songs (In Vein, Do You Wanna Know?, Love Love, Kiss Kiss, and Ruin It) along with Over and Out and Lost and Rendered. This album should appeal to radio fans, but might lose some of the most die-hard of fans. It's this long running band's first major label release, and it's better than lot's of other band's debuts. It's a decent album, but Alkaline Trio's worst. // 7

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