Alkaline Trio - Good Mourning (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Alkaline Trio

Good Mourning (2003)


Ok, here's the thing: if you were pissed off by From Here to Infirmary, you're probably going to be pretty pissed off with Good Mourning too. (If you are, in fact, still pissed off about a record that came out two years ago, you really need to relax. I mean, the only people who seem to hold a grudge longer than Alkaline Trio fans are those eleven guys in Alabama who are still mad at Lincoln, and have civil war reenactments every weekend in the hopes that it'll turn out different.)

Well, it won't. The North won, and From Here To Infirmary was not, and will never be Maybe I'll Catch Fire. And on that note, Good Mourning is not Infirmary either.

But I've always had a soft spot for Skiba, Dan and the gang. I can say without hesitation that their various full lengths and EPs are among my favourites, and in spite of all the music I try to listen to, I always find a way to squeeze in a bit of ...Catch Fire, Infirmary or the singles collection. Because of that, in spite of the strong tracks on Good Mourning, it's frustrating how this record turned out.

Entering with "This Could Be Love" - a dark riff, Poe-inspired lyrics and that slow chug that seems to permeate the Trio's best stuff. Even the second track, which gratuitously features Keith Morris, who essentially just yells the chorus, seemed pretty catchy. Track three has a bit of organ at the beginning and has Dan Andriano taking the lead, in his nasal, but endearing voice.

But as the record continues, it becomes apparent how disjointed the record is. Even the self-titled singles collection had a thread through it, and those songs weren't even recorded together. Mourning seems all over the place. It sounds like Matt was listening to the Cure, while Dan was listening to Jawbreaker and the Broadways.

In many ways, there are not any dramatically bad songs, but the little studio flourishes seem to be the biggest detractor. For example, the acoustic guitar in "Every Thug Needs a Lady" seems better suited to whatever they're calling Modern Rock these days, and in quite a few of the songs, the seeming need of the band to use harmonies everywhere grates a little. Suffice to say, the production is very annoying.

The Trio was always a pretty minimal band, they are a trio after all, and the production on Good Mourning sounds like some sort of insecurity about that. Absolutely everything is overworked, whether it's the doubled up guitars, the many, many other instruments and samples, or the need to attach a high octave Matt-harmony to every track Dan sings lead on.

Part of me wants to blame Jerry Finn for this, and I'd like to think that he tied the band to chairs, and forced them to listen to Sing the Sorrow until they succumbed, but that's not very likely.

Now, having read this far, you might think I hate this record; it couldn't be further from the truth. This is a fine, albeit flawed, record, and most bands would be thrilled to have put out these songs, not to mention the consistently brilliant back catalog the Trio boasts. The problem is that a band like this is like a friend; you follow their music for years and you feel some sort of kinship with them. That friendship is a double edged sword. When they do well, you want to brag about how great they are, and when they do not-so-well, you're their harshest critic. So, take that granule of salt with you as you listen to the record and let us know what you think.