Matt Skiba has confessed that the songs he wrote for My Shame Is True are very much catharsis for a romantic relationship gone sour. Yet as one wanders through the Alkaline Trio back catalogue, it is not a stretch to say that much of the agony, anger and melancholy heard seems to come from this very source; that a complicated connection between two people is as friction fueled as a power chord. One listen to classic tracks like “Radio” and “Stupid Kid” and one can see a bright bitterness resonate through both the words and the music. So perhaps this, their ninth studio album, as Skiba notes, wasn’t meant to be a “personal record”, it just turned in to one. The results are the most profound they’ve been in almost a decade.
Gone are the more punk rock oriented numbers like “Private Eye” and “Goodbye Forever”, their ethos replaced by the more languid, fluid sounding song writing they began to explore in Crimson. Much of My Shame Is True takes its cues from what they laid down in 2010’s This Addiction; mid-tempos, extended bridges, more succinct melodies that while tone down their angst, are no less urgent. This includes some of the album’s best tracks, “Kiss You To Death” and “Midnight Blue”- all while keeping Skiba’s lyrical ability for being emotional without sounding over dramatic; “I don’t care if we fuck / or we if talk / or we cry / I just miss you / I want to kiss you to death tonight”.
Pleasantly surprising, is the quality of the Dan Andriano-sung work this time around. He’s sung on one of the best Alkaline Trio songs to date (“I’m Dying Tomorrow”), but perhaps down to personal tastes, there’s always been a preference to Skiba-sung tracks. On My Shame Is True however, the Andriano numbers are brilliant. “Only Love”, with its piano-laced contemplations, and the live-for-today ode of “Young Lovers”, come across as some of the best post-Crimson tracks the band have written.
It is foolish to think the band will ever write another Maybe I’ll Catch Fire or From Here To Infirmary. But with My Shame is True, Alkaline Trio, along with the Blasting Room crew (who seem to be busier than ever), have produced their most assured record to date. They are sounding as comfortable with their sound as t they’ve ever been, and with it comes the creative freedom to write songs that resonate on both a personal and aesthetic level. This is the record that Agony & Irony and This Addiction wanted to be.
(Heart & Skull / Epitaph)