Alkaline Trio - Remains

It's well over a decade since Green Day took pop punk out from the clubs and into stadiums and festival shows with Dookie, their multi-platinum collection of goofball classics. The passing years have done little to dimish the genre's appeal to new generations of listeners for whom the likes of Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco are simply the latest lick of paint on the standard model.

Falling somewhere in the middle of all this are Alkaline Trio, who've managed to walk the difficult line between commercial success and underground favour over five studio albums. Remains is their second compilation, a follow-up to 2000's eponymous collection of early singles and off-cuts.

Like any genre, it's what you do within the parameters and A3 (See? I'm down ...) have rarely strayed from the basic template of loud guitars, played fast and with plenty melody and hooks. Whilst it can be a winning formula, it can be restricting. Slow things down, or lighten the sound and you just end up sounding like The Feeling or McFly. Punk bands like The Damned (who A3 cover here) and The Stranglers were able to explore pop and psychedelia in a way that rather than alienate the audience, simply made them even more interesting - albeit less critically accepted than The Clash who mined a more "authentic" musical seam. 2005's Crimson, with its Cure-like touches perhaps offers an indication of future directions.

Where Alkaline Trio win out over most of their contemporaries is due to the songwriting split between frontman Matt Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano. Skiba's songs tend to be those chosen to promote the band and this collection includes one of his best moments, "Queen of Pain" from the split-LP they shared with Hot Water Music. Andriano's work is often more straightforward but he has a knack of producing anthemic, yet personally affecting songs that capture more adult topics than Blink 182, et al. "My Standard Break From Life", "Buried" and "I'm Dying Tomorrow" ("Did I remember to keep your beer as full as mine? / Did I remember to say 'cheers'? / Did I at least try to make sure everybody had a good time?") rank among the band's finest tracks.

A DVD of some moderately distracting tour footage (although the live material suffers from poor sound) and promotional videos sits alongside the CD. With full sleeve notes from the band rounding out a particularly fan-friendly package, it'd be churlish not to rate this highly despite the fact that there remain a number of uncompiled tracks that could've been included at the expense of more readily available material.



out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 03:17:05

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