Not really a threesome (tour manager Nolan McGuire often plays guitar for live shows), Chicago's Alkaline Trio is still one of the best purveyors of catchy and thoughtful punk/hardcore at a time when fashion sense and well-applied eyeliner have sadly become the norm for many in the genre. Even though label snafus and personnel moves have become an unfortunately routine part of the band's history, Alkaline Trio has always managed to keep things together, producing a decade's worth of manicured aggression that has never lost its sense of humor or high-volume dynamics. Agony and Irony, the band's recently released, sixth full-length, is filled with just the kind of shouted declarations fans have come to expect from Matt Skiba, Dan Andriano, and Derek Grant. Songs like "In Vein" and "Calling All Skeletons" are fitfully contained statements of rage that sit well alongside the pop conventions of "Love Love, Kiss Kiss." Fans may yearn for the consistently harsher tones of earlier efforts such as Goddamnit or Maybe I'll Catch Fire, but the evolution of Alkaline Trio has been pleasant to witness, as Skiba hasn't allowed myriad distractions to take the edge from his youthful viewpoint, even as the music has become progressively more adult.
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