Alkaline Trio's Good Mourning: 10 Years Later, It's a Gothy Pop Punk Classic
It's not uncommon for fans to have a soft spot for the first album they hear from a beloved artist. It might not be the band's defining work, but it was your entry point, your gateway. I'll always carry a torch for Alkaline Trio's fourth album, Good Mourning, and in this case, it's a significant album in the band's body of work and an important record in my personal history. Go to an Alkaline Trio show, and you'll see plenty of 20- and 30-somethings. I suspect that I'm not alone in holding on to this record as a high school touchstone.
Vagrant Records Alkaline Trio, circa Good Mourning
Good Mourning is just a couple of months shy of its 10th anniversary, and looking back at the band's discography, it stands out as some of Alkaline Trio's best work. Don't get me wrong -- Goddamnit is the band's greatest album, but Good Mourning has a specific magic, featuring just the right balance of love and the macabre, and great production values to top it all off.
Part of Alkaline Trio's continued appeal is that the band evolves with each album. Goddamnit and Maybe I'll Catch Fire are both dark and gritty, with moments of beauty ("Enjoy Your Day" and "You've Got So Far to Go") sprinkled in among the songs about death and tornadoes.
The band's stylistic touches took a sharp pop-punk turn upon signing with Vagrant Records in 2001 and releasing From Here to Infirmary, a classic in its own right. Both "Radio" and "Private Eye" are grim and self-destructive -- just you try getting out of your mind the image of Skiba wishing a former lover would throw a radio in a bathtub. Skiba's "suspects and alibis" crime fiction aside, songs like "Stupid Kid," "Mr. Chainsaw," and "Armageddon" are poppy, easily accessible breakup songs that instantly get stuck in your head. These balance well with darker tracks like "Trucks and Trains" and "Crawl."
Alkaline Trio built on this balance of love and death even more with Good Mourning. The album is a turn away from Infirmary's poppy sound, veering toward the band's undeniable goth influences. Mourning . . . is full of images of the darkness, from Dan Andriano wondering whether anyone would notice if he fell out of a building and his going straight to hell in "One Hundred Stories" to Skiba getting turned on by playing with matches in "This Could Be Love." This album even has a song about the Donner Party. (How cheery!)