Alkaline Trio

From Here To Infirmary

Written by: PP on 30/09/2009 06:47:17

When it comes to bands that aren't able to write a bad song even if their life depended on it, Alkaline Trio is one of the first ones to come to mind. Granted, their albums have had varying degrees of quality, but the more appropriate statement would be to say they've been varying degrees of good, great, excellent and timeless classic. Although there's much ongoing debate within Alkaline Trio fanbase on which album exactly is the best (speaks volumes about how many amazing releases these guys have written), one shines bright above the rest, their 2001 album "From Here To Infirmary". When most bands peak on their debut album, in Alkaline Trio's case it seemed to be their third full length that contains classics like "Armageddon", "Bloodied Up", "Mr Chainsaw", "Private Eye", "Hell Yes", "Take Lots With Alcohol"....hell the whole album is one big classic and a huge part of the punk rock history class you'll be taking in a couple of month's time. It's the album where Alkaline Trio took everything awesome about their sound and made it even better - something that was considered unthinkable by many considering "Goddamnit" and "Maybe I'll Catch Fire". The dark lyrical universe became even darker, whilst the songs became brighter and more polished, but never to the extent of being close to sounding overproduced.

Then you could add on the small detail that Alkaline Trio one upped their already insanely infectious melodies to the point that jaws were firmly glued to the ground around the release of this album (and in this scribe's case, still eight years later). The way they were able to still keep their sound relatively raw and fast, and still write songs that contain the sound of youth energy without sounding like a high school pop punk band is a feat all too few punk bands master today. How many bands do you know of today who sound like Alkaline Trio and do so successfully? I can only think of Bayside but even they aren't as intelligent and light-heartedly humorous as Alkaline Trio are able to be simultaneously.

And that's just talking about the songs from a very general perspective. If we were to go to specifics, I could point to the brilliant bass lines, but I'm more inclined to talk about Mike Felumlee's drumming which is nothing short of phenomenal (better than Porter's in my opinion), leading me back to my point from a few months ago that all great punk bands have ridiculously good drummers who make the songs stand out with their complex and textured drum patterns instead of relying only on the basic d-beat. Just take a listen to "Take Lots With Alcohol" or "Steamer Trunk" for great examples...maybe Felumlee's (and Porter's) departure following the release of this album is why Alkaline Trio albums haven't since become instant classics like the ones where he was on?

The best part about "From Here To Infirmary" is still to come though, because although Skiba/Andriano have always written great lyrics, this is the album where they really leave all their other work into a solar eclipse sized shadow. Consider the following from "Stupid Kid", for instance: "There are things that used to make you cry / one of them was me for just a little while / why is it that you had to say / goodbye in your special way? / You slashed the tires on my car", or these from "I'm Dying Tomorrow": "Did I remember to stay up late / drinking for the fun / singing for the taste / Did I, did I run outside to kiss the rain / underneath electrical skies?". And really, almost every song has a catch phrase, a line, or a passage that you'll take away from the record. Some songs even have great, albeit subtle advice on how to best live your life! Kind of puts pop punk lyrics about girls into perspective, doesn't it?

So whether you're into the high-octane, driving songs that open up the circle pit like "Armageddon" or the atmospheric and intensely dark pieces like "Another Innocent Girl", this album has it all. There are simply so many 10/10 songs on his record that I'm having a serious battle inside my head not to give this album full marks, because if it wasn't for the somewhat anonymous "Trucks And Trains" and "Standard Break" towards the end of the record, this would be a serious contender with Bad Religion's "The Process Of Belief" for the very best punk rock album this decade. Any music fan, regardless of genre affiliation, should own this record in their collection.

Download: Stupid Kid, Private Eye, Armageddon
For the fans of: Bayside, American Steel, These Green Eyes, GOB
Listen: Myspace

Release date 03.04.2001
Vagrant Records

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