Retrospectives: We Revisit Alkaline Trio's 'Agony & Irony' as it Turns 10
Dark princes of punk rock Alkaline Trio proved they weren’t letting their guard down in 2008. The band appeared from the shadows with a record which is to this day undervalued and placed behind thrillers such as Good Mourning and From Here To Infirmary. Those records are Goliath and represent the band’s diversity and skill for the blackened, often depressive harmonies.
In the summer of '08, the Chicago institution released their most obscure record in Agony & Irony: a record which was swept aside brutally by diehard punk fans, who thought Alkaline Trio were strolling down the sell-out route. Although Agony & Irony is a polished effort, it still contains many hard-hitting, melodic punk scores.
Guitarist and singer Matt Skiba, bassist Dan Andriano, and drummer Derek Grant were shooting for the stars with Agony & Irony, but it didn’t leap into the ears as an infectious compendium. Many scorned the record, many strayed away from Chicago’s famous sons.
The record isn’t a compelling LP, nor is a terrible one: it is an album of heartbreak and disenchantment. We expect these topics to be explored by Alkaline Trio, we expect blood to be spilled, hope to be shattered, lungs to be strained. They’re truly a collective marching forward through alleyways swathed in darkness.
Agony & Irony isn’t a ground-breaking opus. Although it does captivate when Skiba’s soaring guitar strokes intertwine beautifully as a crutch for his empowering vocals and poetic strands: all while Andriano serves up his melancholic inputs, songs of rage and love, bittersweet symphonies.
The album is also a heart-puller, one that shatters the emotions like a hammer to glass. It's cathartic and bound in gloom, but everyone who takes their time to listen to Alkaline Trio, know such emphatic heartache.
The true highlights on Agony & Irony, are the ones you’d least expect to be winners: songs like 'Over And Out' which is an emotional twister, and could start a tornado of emotion inside your reckless mind. There’s also songs louder than bombs, including 'Help Me' and 'Calling All Skeletons': these thrilling efforts carry the album forward.
2008 wasn’t a blockbuster year for Alkaline Trio. Agony & Irony is a good, honest record, harshly underrated by critics and fans, but it had enough to veer us closer to the band’s shadowy world.