Bands strive their entire careers to find a unique sound, one which defines them and only them. Alkaline found such a sound early on with their dark pop-punk compositions packed with bitingly melancholic lyrics and the singular vocal pairing of Skiba and Andriano.
One man's trench is another man's rut though, and for all its quirks, you cannot but think that This Addiction is From Here To Infirmary, played at half the speed, bereft of the stand-out songs and with the pitch-black lyrics cleaned up for a cheerier after-taste.
There's no escaping the fact of how ridiculously slow this album feels. Granted the drummer likely was getting too old for the full-speed punk beats, but there was no need to slow to almost Filter and Maroon 5 speeds. Although there is a shift to balladry on album closer "Fine" it's almost as well executed as you hoped it would be, even if the lyrics studiously transpose the book 'how to write a song about forced happiness through regret': "And it's a love that gives me heart-burn / It's a song that makes my stomach turn / And I wouldn't trade my hand / For all the aces in the deck / 'Cause I'm fine / I'm fine".
It's interesting to note that a kind of schism has developed within the Alkaline Trio fanbase. AK3 compose their songs generally dividing the writing and vocal duties between co-frontmen Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano. The general consensus seems to be that Andriano's work is infinitely superior. On this album though, he only gets a paltry three songs to work with: "Dine, Dine My Darling", "Off the Map" and "Fine". Perhaps next time around a 50/50 split might be called for, there's surely a concept album ready to be built around that ethos.
It's tough to argue with the Andriano-groupies, mostly because he didn't write "Draculina". Starting like a Robbie Robb track and seemingly a misguided attempt to get on the next Twilight soundtrack. Schmaltzy to the extreme and with a chorus so predictable you may well walk into Ladbrokes and place a bet that you can sing it having only heard the first verse. "Draculina, whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh, oh oh oh, whoa oh, whoa oh, Draculina, whoa oh oh, oh oh, whoa oh oh oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh ,oh"... we could go on...
Conversely though, Skiba also has the strongest song on the album thanks to "Dead on the Floor". Steeped in regret, fantastic backing vocals and an intuitive, but not predictable melody, it's not anywhere near the throwback to the old-AK3 which many fans crave, but it marks out their contemporary work as having just as much potential.
Ultimately though, the whole experience is disappointingly underwhelming, head-scratchingly mediocre and leaves you with little desire to listen to the album again until the time comes when you forget exactly how run-of-the-mill it is actually is.