Alkaline Trio - Maybe I'll Catch Fire
Asian Man Records

In the year since I first saw the Alkaline Trio, not only have they doubled
in popularity and toured the nation, but they've also found the time to
record an EP and LP worth of new material.

Last summer's four-song EP, I Lied My Face Off, hinted at the things the Trio had up their sleeves. The four songs on I Lied My Face Off were longer and more downbeat than the songs on Alkaline Trio's 1998 debut album, Goddamnit. The songs on Alkaline Trio's new album, Maybe I'll Catch Fire, reflect that departure.
Fans of the Trio -- don't worry: The songs are still full of that hurt-too-many-times-by-a-relationship-gone-sour feel that made these boys famous. The lyrical content follows much in the same path as Goddamnit's, but the music on the album gives it a more depressing feel.
Maybe I'll Catch Fire opens with "Keep 'Em Coming," a song with a rhythm very close to Goddamnit's opener, "Cringe." Interestingly, the lack-of-sleep feel that "Cringe" imbued the listener ("Burned out on two hours of shut-eye / Eyes glazed at the thought of the next eight hours") is carried over to "Keep 'Em Coming" as the band sings of having a head that is heavier than lead while having toothpicks in their eyes.
"Madam Me" is a dark rock song that picks up where "I Lied My Face Off" ended. As the song ends with the words, "I will keep you warm in Hell," one is forced to wonder if Matt Skiba is looking forward to that day or dreading it.
As any Alkaline Trio listener knows, two things they love to write songs about are alcohol and romance. These two topics that go great together are combined on "You've Got So Far to Go," as Dan Andriano sings about how they "talked so much we filled this ashtray twice / and [he's] pretty sure we emptied every bottle in the place."
On "Sleepyhead," Alkaline Trio tries two new things. It's about the farthest thing from a punk song they've written yet. I can imagine most of the kids skipping past this track, because of the awkward opening guitar riff that carries the song. The lyrics for this song also go a bit past the relationships & alcohol theme presented by previous Trio songs -- they deal with heroin addiction.
Andriano's vocals make another appearance on the album's title track, which seems to deal with depression and the inability to cope with it. When he painfully sings, "Maybe I'll fall hard / Something tough to break me / Something sharp to rip into my insides and rip out all this pain," you can't help but hope things start going better for him.
On another of Andriano's songs, "She Took Him to the Lake," he tells the story of a young boy who fell into a summer romance, only to have the girl not return his calls in the fall. This is the first time I've really notice Andriano's lyrics telling a story, and I hope he continues to write in this style and gets better at it, because I enjoy the feelings his lyrics and voice are able to paint in this song.
The album closes with Skiba's "Radio," a slow song detailing another romance gone bad. How bad? Have you ever wished your ex-lover would just accidentally drop an appliance into the bathtub with them? Then you'll relate to Skiba's lyrics.
I don't like Maybe I'll Catch Fire as much as Goddamnit -- everything just seems a little stilted as a whole. MICF is not a bad record, though, just not as good as the Trio's debut.
...john heisel...

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