Album of the Week: Alkaline Trio – From Here to Infirmary

Released 3rd April 2001

I listen to music in two different ways. I don’t mean sometimes through my ears or sometimes by holding a speaker to my teeth to feel the vibrations or some mad thing like that. What I do mean is, I either bung loads of new stuff on a playlist and stick it on shuffle or I return again and again to the same bands and albums that I have loved for years.

This week, for no particular reason, I have drifted back to the unrelentingly dark discography of Alkaline Trio. Emo has become a catch all term for identikit bands with shit fringes and embarrassingly confessional lyrics, but this does an injustice to talented artists such as Jimmy Eat World, La Dispute, The Wonder Years, Jawbreaker and, of course, Alkaline Trio.

The future is pretty grim for Alk3 fans as band leader Matt Skiba has swanned off to Blink 182. Where this leaves his main act appears to be up in the air. While Trio played three homecoming shows in Chicago earlier this year, there has been no sign of a follow up to 2013’s My Shame is True.

This leaves their glorious back catalogue as the only means to enjoy their music for the foreseeable future. After flirting outrageously with Good Mourning, I have instead chosen its predecessor From Here to Infirmary as this week’s album of the week (yet another 15 year old album, I know. I’m sorry)

From Here to Infirmary is either a brilliantly raw underground punk outfit going mainstream and selling out, or the moment all their talent came together to forge something beautiful, depending on whether you are an idiot or not.

From Here to Infirmary may not be quite as abrasive as their earlier records, but that shambolic sound from those albums on Asian Man Records could never have continued. It is nigh on impossible to keep that level of emotional discord going for more than a couple of albums. The band would have collapsed under the weight of their own misery.

Instead, From Here to Infirmary keeps the jet black humour of those early records but adds endless hooks and catchy melodies as well as some of the bands most memorable lyrical refrains. It’s impossible to pick a favourite song but ‘Private Eye’ was an instant classic immediately on release, ‘Stupid Kid’ captures the bands knowing, bratty insolence perfectly and ‘Crawl’ is as perfect a song as you will find within the emo genre.

Elsewhere, ‘Take Lots With Alcohol’ sees Dan Andriano questioning if he is boring himself as much as the listener whilst paradoxically producing one of his best songs. ‘Armageddon’, ‘I’m Dying Tomorrow’ and ‘Bloodied Up’ fly by with an infectious energy and at just under 40 minutes it is nigh on impossible to listen to From Here to Infirmary just once.

From Here to Infirmary is a dark, twisted, glorious record so forget the punk/emo/pop punk debate and just enjoy it for what it is. A fucking brilliant album.

Track of the Week: Sam Cooke – What A Wonderful World

Sleep well Sned.


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