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"I wanna be a Warhol, displayed on your wall. Hung up there staring back at you..."
Classic Matt Skiba... His artsy lyrics are a much anticipated (amongst cultist fans) teaser for the follow up to 2010's 'This Addiction'. Not exactly a '3 years in the making' job, Skiba went off on a possible ego-trip/meltdown in the self-titled 'Matt Skiba and the Sekrets' - a group revolving around him (and his dodgey outfit designed by Limp Bizkit's equally whacky guitarist, Wes Borland). Forgetting the words to his own songs, being off key and generally looking nervous as hell, rumors of his live shows spread and the album 'Babylon' was generally the same spiel but without the solid percussion, bass and song writing of his Alkaline Trio bandmates. Dan Andriano's solo release 'Hurricane Season' however, was a much more accomplished record that displayed not only the type of lyrics all know he is capable of, but the variety on show was first class. So will Skiba's previous effort taint the album, or will all be put aside and provide a well needed pick-me-up?
The first track already sounds familiar with a name like 'She Lied to the FBI' and after the few seconds of intro you can tell its a joyous return with its undeniably catchy hook. Skiba sounds care-free in his vocals which is a fair change of pace as his past songs have featured notes he simply can't hit live (although its not all that watered down as it is strewn with a few swears). The use of 2 guitars is a much needed boost to the bands sound also, providing a smooth punk combo, not that it means another band member is debuting (Alkaline Quartet doesn't sound right). The first single from the album is a souring, simple alternative rock anthem right away. The chorus instantly memorable, singing-along encouraged, the band keep pushing that same formula of 3 chord power chords. The song has flavours of many of the bands past songs but remains a good'n none the less with an official music video starring Milla Jovovich... Worth a look if you want a taste of a frankly, past it band.
Track 3 'I'm Only Here to Disappoint' is the first offering from bassist/vocalist Andriano. Introduction loud and downbeat, the guitar goes back and fourth through many a scale while 'Danny-boy' cries out "These simple things I just can't say, remove the you from you and me, I stand and bring you to your knees, again and again and again!" - its a throwback to the mans darker side that closes with a decent guitar thrashing riff. 'Kiss You to Death' on the other hand is a smitten Skiba lullaby, with mediocre love poetry like "..and I don't care if we f**k or we talk or we cry, I just miss you, i wanna kiss you to death tonight - wo-ho-ho". The words are one thing but the wailing moans are just plain puppy-like melancholy honesty. It picks up the pace towards the end with a list of things his sultry temptress is 'in' blood and bones and whatnot but the next track offers much more. 'The Temptation of St. Anthony' may be a Bosch painting of an old man meditating but 'this' is a rock and roll/punk storm. "Not a word you can say, can erase memories of that night" sits atop a palm muted verse that second time round gets a bit more flair amongst some subtly brilliant bass. On first listen, you recall the song by its funky bass interlude and Skiba cries of "..much like this world has never known... known!"
Second song from Andriano features Rise Against vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath, perform a duet in a brief bit of rock that passes all too quickly. At just over 2 minutes long, the duel shouts of "Disappear, disappear, I'm not here with my mind!" are only a fond memory when Dan showcases a contender for best song on the album. 'Only Love' sees the Elvis Costello-esque co-frontman belt out a real beauty. It wouldn't be out of place on his solo record, but in stark contrast to his 2 previous songs, its an upbeat sound (after the poignent introduction) with a bit of hammond organ that tips the cap to the past eras. "How young are you gunna be when you die?" asks Andriano, followed by the inevitable "All I know is time is undefeated so far". The chorus could not fail to raise a smile, rest assured. Definitely feel good songwriting at its core. Finally, Skiba steps up his game with 'The Torture Doctor' - albeit still pushing the "Hey-Ho"s. It sounds straight off of 2003's 'Good Mourning' in most aspects from the integration of guitar and organ to the dark lyrics of "There's a devil dancing in my head, as I'm hovering above your bed". Its similar to the songs lead single but in my eyes, a step ahead thanks to the well held notes of "There's nothing left to hide, down here on the south side!"
'Midnight Blue' sounds far too much like something from 'Babylon' except with a winding lead guitar carving a sharp path after each verse/chorus. One of the weaker tracks. All is forgiven when he busts out 'One Last Dance' however as its by this time a veteran of Alkaline Trio may come to the startling conclusion of how brutally honest the album is. We hear a humble Skiba declare "There just aint words to say how sorry I am.. For acting like a schoolboy trapped in a man. There's nothing I wont do for one last chance, may I have this dance?". It's also, for me anyways, the time you recognize the percussion! Derek Grant seems to have quietened down a smidgen, or perhaps its just he does what's expected of him on every occasion, that nothing more need be said.. The final song of Andriano 'Young Lover' is in-keeping with the track before.. a bit of negativity painted with a smile. "Young Lover, lets waste no time. You're too concerned with Heaven and I see it in your eyes. Young Lover, right now you're mine. Don't think of your tomorrow's, lets live like we could die tonight" - one of the many lines that make the Trio so special.
To end, is a traditional acoustic start to 'Until Death Do Us Part' that sounds like every other Matt Skiba song you may have heard. Predictable notes as usual, but the odd ringing electric and effect laden solo make it much more bearable. Some fans have said its the albums 'Radio' and that no doubt is what they were going for but lets not be silly. The 8:4 split of songs for the vocalists is rather shameful as its been common knowledge for a while now that Andriano never disappoints (despite the track-list) however, no one knows whether thats because Skiba is at the helm or Andriano is just keeping it sweet. Despite having several bandaged up Frankenstein's monsters of songs, there is still a fantastic selection that will please the majority of fans, but as usual, nothing note-worthy enough to bag a worthwhile amount listeners or the attention they deserve... Milla Jovovich in stockings & suspenders included...
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 She Lied to the FBI
2 I Wanna Be a Warhol
3 I'm Only Here to Disappoint
4 Kiss You to Death
5 The Temptation of St. Anthony
6 I, Pessimist
7 Only Love
8 The Torture Doctor
9 Midnight Blue
10 One Last Dance
11 Young Lovers
12 Until Death Do Us Part