Here’s some good and bad news. The good news is there’s a new Alkaline Trio album out. The bad news is that fans of Alkaline Trio already own every song on the album.
“Remains,” which was released Jan. 30, is a collection of previously released B-sides, songs from compilations and EP tracks, as well as three live tracks. Although the material is old, the release is handy, as it coalesces these scattered and hard to find songs into a single release.
Musically, Alkaline Trio walks a fine line between straightforward, energetic punk rock and bouncy, heartfelt powerpop – with a stronger lean towards the powerpop side of this dynamic. The songs exude a simple music style full of engaging, rhythm-heavy riffs and chord structures. The melodies are catchy and powerful, and the harmonies provide depth to the sound. The guitar riffs are reminiscent of every new-wave era pop song you’ve ever heard, and they might make you want to listen to a Cars song or two.
As this is a collection, the tracks stay very consistent with a high level of creativity, but the recording quality varies from track to track. Most of the songs are well produced, but some tracks, like “Bye Bye Love,” have a very lo-fi, garage-recording sound.
Fans of poppy, melodic punk rock bands such as Jawbreaker or Hot Water Music will enjoy this release, although Alkaline Trio’s sound is more lush and fully realized than either of those bands ever were. Fans of newer mainstream bands like Fall Out Boy, as well as fans of ’80s-era new wave pop/rock, will also want to pick up “Remains.”
This release comes with 45 minutes of DVD video, including all of the band’s videos. The DVD also has behind-the-scenes backstage clips, which are very boring, except for an incident where the lead singer breaks up a skate park fight.
For those wanting to taste before they buy, the band has put a track, “Jaked on Green Beers,” on its Myspace page.
If you’re a fan of post-modern guitar rock of any kind, you owe it to yourself to check out this release. If you’re a fan of punk rock or powerpop, you should already have this in your collection. If you don’t, pick it up.