Alkaline Trio stuck out amongst their peers on Asian Man and Vagrant in the early ’00s, and I had some friends who were really into the Chicago band back in college. They had big hooks, a speedy punk sound, and Matt Skiba screaming like Ian MacKaye if he wasn’t above presenting himself as a broke, miserable drunk with girlfriend issues. I tuned out after Goddamnit and Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, but it seemed like the band was continuing to entertain their cult and I was happy for everybody. Recent events, though, have been less than encouraging. To promote their upcoming major-label debut Agony And Irony, the band has appeared on The Hills, released a shoe with Nike named “Heart And Sole,” and dropped “Help Me,” the worst single I’ve heard from them yet.
While it would be wrong to critique lines like “save me from myself/ save me from myself” when I still own a song from 1998 named “My Little Needle,” back in the day, they didn’t feel the need to emulate Angels & Frikkin’ Airwaves by dropping “la la la la” breaks over twinkling backdrops.
I don’t usually accuse people of selling out for doing ads (I’d be happy to see them making fruit cocktails for Denny’s All Nighter), but it does seem like they’ve erased any of the qualities that originally made them appealing to their original fanbase. Will Heidi Montag fans replace the young old punks who probably feel out of place at Warped Tour anyway? I don’t know, but this audience in Portland doesn’t seem to be feeling it much.