Sound — 8
The melodies are catchy. The presentation is about as un-Trio-like as you can get. Once you are able to delve into the songs, past the facade of pop haze, the Trio's style is still visible, but it took me a few tries to really hear it. The Alkaline Trio has never been really good at making a powerful first impression in any of their music, and it's only through continued listening that someone understands how good it is. The same principle applies here, but perhaps with this new edge on their musical voice, the Trio can attract a wider audience. In any case, you can still hear the Trio of old in there.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are always stellar with Alkaline Trio. There were times that I wished the vocals would have been mixed louder. Adriano's voice was harder to understand, and even Skiba's volume seemed low sometimes. Of course, that doesn't detract from the quality.
Overall Impression — 10
Initially, I hated this CD. I am a long time Trio fan, and when I first heard "The Poison," I couldn't even listen to the whole thing. I was having flashes of Adriano dressed up like Brittany Spears and rubbing themselves on a bedpost. When I gave the CD another chance, I found that I could appreciate even the aptly named "Poison" and found that many of the other songs were quite well done, if you can get past the heavy pop toxicity surrounding them. My two least favorites are the aforemetioned track and "Your Neck," as I've never really cared for the songs about vampire tendencies in the past. "Sadie" is nowhere near as good as it is on the One Man Army Split. All the rough edges and gritty guitar and vocal interactions that made it raise hair before are gone and replaced with smoothly interacting instruments with a heavy hand on the synthesized strings. "Sadie" will always be a good song regardless, but the new version is a total detraction. The only thing I appreciate in the new version is Sadie's testimony mixed at a higher volume. Overall, if given a chance, this is another excellent set of songs from the Trio. I can only hope that they generate a lot of success and following from it, and can go back to the simpler, more powerful days of "Nose Over Tail" and "Crawl."