ALKALINE TRIO/HOT WATER MUSIC: Split: CD

It’s an appropriate pairing in a yin yangy way. Alkaline Trio sound happy as shit, but the smiles are broken tooth lyrics sharpened to daggers, all dark undercurrent, all sugar-coated fuck you in the pop context. Hot Water Music sound pissed as all hell and as gruff as a kennel of kicked-in-the-head Dobermans, but their lyrics are overwhelmingly positive and hopeful. OK, these songs: Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba’s got it going on; breathless melody that’ll make ladies shed tops like they’re entering tanning salons instead of a rock show, the hummability that’ll place A3 on the loudspeaker as I pump gas, and I still can’t slag him. Skiba writes some fucking tight, snappy songs that look and smell like those little heart-shaped candies, but don’t easily dissolve from memory. They cover Hot Water Music’s “Rooftops,” and have provided two originals. HWM’s ability to soar and propel with post hardcore power, steering into brutal-tongued and burning acoustic-heavy songs takes me to places I never thought the band would go, but I’m stunned at how warm, meaningful, and heart-felt they still sound, even if they’re slower and more sparse arrangements. Great split.

 –todd (Jade Tree)