Six albums and 12 years after Alkaline Trio formed in suburban Chicago, it seems a little late in the game for the group to jump to a major label. Roughly seven years have passed since From Here To Infirmary made the group one of Vagrant Records' many next big things (along with Dashboard Confessional, Saves The Day, and The Get Up Kids). After Vagrant released 2005's excellent Crimson, the Trio moved to V2 Records, which promptly went out of business.
Now seemingly stable on Epic, the Trio attempts to streamline its sound after the heavily produced Crimson, which arguably sounded more like a major-label album. Not that the new Agony & Irony is much different; the guitars are a little punchier, and the flourishes (keys, sequenced drums, strings) seem fewer. But the fundamental precepts remain as entrenched as ever: huge, heavily melodic punk guitars; a tight, aggressive rhythm section; lots of tag-team vocal melodies from guitarist Matt Skiba and bassist Dan Andriano. The parts come together most powerfully in the soaring choruses, another Trio fundamental. (See "Over And Out.")
As usual, the Trio delivers plenty of highlights: "Into The Night," "Do You Wanna Know?", "Calling All Skeletons" (which cops a riff from "Bunkhouse" by The Murder City Devils, who probably copped it from someone else). Once again, the Trio lives up to expectations—but it's easy to wonder how much longer that will cut it.