Alkaline Trio - My Shame is TrueAlkaline Trio has always been on the outskirts of the post-hardcore/emo/pop-punk scene. While their Jimmy Eat World-ly 2003 breakthrough Good Mourning hit heavy radio rotation, and the lovesick heroin metaphor This Addiction topped US charts, neither sustained enough traction to gain the influence of an At The Drive-In, the gold and platinum records of Brand New or Taking Back Sunday, much less Fall Out Boy‘s and Blink-182‘s sheer domination. Art isn’t a competition, but failure to match these achievements with that promotion exposes a dark truth: their sound is aural “junk food” that often morphs to match whichever aforementioned band is selling best at the time. They’re “The Asylum” of rock music. Unfortunately, My Shame is True keeps this status quo with recycled, vague fluff.

Midnight Blue

Diehard A3 fans can’t deny the facts here – while the quality could theoretically be debated, the numbers don’t lie: these paper-thin metaphors are repeated in several tracks. Example A: using “rain” to symbolize “pain,” and then rhyming the two. Sure, this may have seemed witty when your friend’s middle school pop-punk band did it, but then you grew up and laughed about how adorably terrible it really was. Bonus banality-points for being one of five songs referencing Matt Skiba’s heart. Although, that’s a little more forgivable, as it’s kind of their whole aesthetic: [LISTEN]

And it came just like the rising sun
The shame of everything I’ve done
And the pain, blew in just like a storm
And now it rains, and will for evermore
What’s a boy to do?
I had nobody but you
My heart is sad but true
In midnight blue

One Last Dance

“One Last Dance” repeats the rain/pain thing, but also throws in the blandest character name since John Doe for his imaginary wingman, “Bobby Smith.” Good old Bobby gives Skiba the courage to ask “May I have this dance?/Just one last dance?” for the first time since the 1950s. Pop-punk has never treated rhythmic, coordinated movement between two people with that much etiquette, much less in A3’s lifetime. A more likely explanation is the blatant biting on a sentiment that has been beaten to death, word for word, for decades already: [LISTEN]

You rolled in like a storm and brought the rain
Showered me with scorn and all your pain
You told me you were torn in between days
Now there’s nothing I or Bobby Smith can say
To chase this torrential torture away

The Temptation of St. Anthony

Skiba will drop rainless “pain” in several more tracks, so onto example B: bones, everywhere – as well as other random body parts. Every emotion experienced by these boys is processed viscerally, which must be exhausting. Sadly, it also means that on your first listen, you can usually guess the next line, because every bodily sensation is portrayed with old sayings. Only one line is cliché-free: [LISTEN]

From the depths of your heart
To the tip of my tongue

It hides behind your eyes
I can feel it in my bones
It’s come to tenderize us all
Tonight with sticks and stones

Until Death Do Us Part

“Until Death Do Us Part” follows in the bones tradition as Skiba depicts the “walking away scene” from The Incredible Hulk, with short, separated lines to show just how damn. Important. Each. Lyric. Is. Overall, a little under half of the words are just old-English idioms, like “At the end of the day,” “when push came to shove,” “I won’t hold my breath” and “(I) can dream, (can’t I?),” or the title itself: [LISTEN]

Goodbye for now
Leaving town
For a while
Broken heart
Broken bones
Fading smile

Kiss You to Death

“Kiss You to Death” may beat the dead horse of anatomical emotion, but it also has the best line of the album: “I miss taking out the trash/I miss your face, I miss your cat.” It’s one of the few times Skiba paints a real picture that transcends generic Hot Topic preteen angst, save for the YOLO-date-rape theme “Young Lover” or the voyeur’s hymn “I Wanna Be a Warhol.” Questionable motives aside, those surpass the alternative: [LISTEN]

You’re in my heart
You’re in my skull
You’re in my blood
You’re in my bones