Alkaline Trio - Goddamnit (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Alkaline Trio

Goddamnit (1998)

Asian Man

It was the late 90’s, the midwestern emo scene was slowly starting to give way to the more commercialized, pop-punk emo craze that would dominate the airwaves in the 2000’s, and in the transition between the two came a pop-punk emo band with gothic lyrics that was a little rough around the edges. Alkaline Trio quickly smoothed out their rough edges, but for their debut LP, Goddamnit, Alkaline Trio was a raw emo nerve belting out punchy pop-punk anthems with fuzzy guitar. Goddamnit was an important moment in that emo transition and, regardless of what would come afterwards, it remains an artifact of emo history that cannot be forgotten.

The LP kicks off with “Cringe,” with the studio’s white noise in the first few moments giving way to Matt Skiba’s guitar. Right from the beginning the band’s beautiful dark poetry is on display: “Tongue tied/Bleeding from your eyes/Even Christ himself/Would cringe at the sight of your scars.” This is followed by one of my favorite underappreciated AK3 songs, “Cop,” which is basically just a whole song mocking a cop. I’ve never figured out exactly if the song is meant to be some sort of emo metaphor, or simply a punk rock anti-police anthem. Either way, it’s a hell of a fun song that should get more appreciation than it currently does.

Most of the songs are excellent, with fan favorites including “Nose Over Tail” and “Clavicle,” the latter of which caught on largely because of the beautiful imagery in the chorus of: “I wanna wake up naked next to you/Kissing the curve of your clavicle.” The album barrels forward at a blistering pace, only letting up for two slower, acoustic tracks: “Enjoy Your Day” and “Sorry About That,” where the raw emotion of early Alkaline Trio comes out in a different way, with heartbreaking lyrics and a singing style that borders on crying.

The thing I’ve always liked about Alkaline Trio is that their lyrics are dark, but there’s always a touch of whimsy to them. It’s almost as if the lyrics go so dark that they’re actually funny in how over-the-top they get. On Goddamnit, the lyrics are dark and clever, like Skiba and Andriano are winking at us the whole time. But that doesn’t take away from how much powerful emotion is packed into Goddamnit