Album Reviews

Is This Thing Cursed?
Alkaline Trio Is This Thing Cursed? Punk Rock Theory
Saturday, September 8, 2018 - 08:10
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- by Nate Hennon

For a band that has already cemented their legacy in the annals of modern punk rock, it is difficult not to have preconceived notions of what new music could be. Admittedly I am not a huge fan of the band, but this has a lot do with me not coming to their music until they were already popular. So I don't have that affinity for their early albums that so many of their diehard fans do. That's not to say those albums aren't good. I have circled back to them over the years, and I do find them enjoyable, it's just a baseline for my ear for the Trio. Why do I say all of this? Why do I not just jump into my thoughts on their latest release, "Is This Thing Cursed?" Well, to be honest, I don't know how I feel about this album.

In researching "Cursed," I found a lot of individuals touting it as a return to basics for the band. "Cursed" does have that signature ALK3 sound and vibe. Matt and Dan's dual vocals are always very complimentary and when these two are writing together their songs are undeniably great. So from this perspective, I think "Cursed" does highlight a lot of the best things about pre-"Agony & Irony" ALK3. However, "Cursed" is not unexpected. Since "My Shame is True," Matt Skiba has joined Blink-182 and brought a lot of mainstream eyes and ears to his music. So, ALK3 going back to a groove that helped break them out of Chicago scene darlings into a higher echelon of notoriety makes sense. Why innovative when most of your catalog has a particular feel. It is an excellent strategic move for the band and the brand.

I know this sounds negative, but it is intended to ride the line between both positive and negative criticism (sure I have it both ways, but that's where my head is at on this album). To clarify, I think "Cursed" is an excellent album. If any band put out these types of songs, I will still find them enjoyable. I wanted more from ALK3. I know that "Addiction" and "Shame" were not acclaimed, but I appreciated something a little different from a group of musicians that have a proven pedigree for superb songwriting. Fans will love this album and so will new listeners. Those that fall in between may be left wanting more.


Track listing:

  1. Is This Thing Cursed?
  2. Blackbird
  3. Demon and Division
  4. Little Help?
  5. I Can't Believe
  6. Sweet Vampires
  7. Pale Blue Ribbon
  8. Goodbye Fire Island
  9. Stay
  10. Heart Attacks
  11. Worn So Thin
  12. Throw Me To The Lions
  13. Krystalline
Tom Dumarey
Tom Dumarey

Lacking the talent to actually play in a band, Tom decided he would write about bands instead. Turns out his writing skills are mediocre at best as well.