Over the years, Alkaline Trio has moved away from their punk roots to explore more radio-friendly pop-punk anthems. New release My Shame Is True returns to a raw punk aesthetic that recalls the Chicago rockers’ reckless 1998 debut, Goddamnit!, but soft-hearted ballads take away from the album’s energy.
Album opener “She Lied to the FBI” soars on a contagion of snotty choruses that ooze with passion and technicality from every note. What’s more refreshing, however, is the band’s divorce from cliche punk-pop melodies on “The Temptation of St. Anthony”, in which its refrains are led by bass solos and the guitars strum up suspense. Rise Against singer Tim McIlrath contributes next with a guest spot on “I, Pessimist”, a lyrical call-and-response that delivers in-your-face harmonies alongside bassist Dan Andriano.
But My Shame is True loses its momentum on its poppier tracks. Songs like “Kiss You to Death” and “Until Death Do Us Part” fail the record by relying on increased vocal levels and reflective, heartbroken lyrics, ignoring the band’s collective intensity. The vocals come off forced, or simply spoken, and the instrumentation hits the back seat, resulting in songs that are just as forgettable as they are unnecessary.