Alkaline Trio make an energetic return on their ninth studio album Is This Thing Cursed?

After a five-year break the group have returned to take on, depression, Trump, and persevering through the struggles of life.

Vocalists Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano power through the 13-track offering. In the majority of songs it feels as if the band has no time to waste. The words come tumbling out and the band’s pop punk style keeps things high-octane.

The ambiguous opener and title song finds the singer apparently stuck in a rut. Andriano sings:

“Is this thing cursed? This goddamn thing's the worst Now one look in that direction And everything starts to hurt”

whether the “thing” alludes to life, luck, or alcohol is unclear, but the band have not been shy about linking the tune to themes of depression and looking inside oneself to find the root of problems.

The strong start is swiftly followed by the novel ‘Blackbird’. Novel because it’s not every day a woman is compared to a military fighter plane. ‘Blackbird’ is owed I listen just for being so quirky.

The trio may like a bit of fun, but that hasn’t stopped them voicing their discontent with the American political scene. The vocalist fires off:

“I can’t believe anything that you are saying to me, I just can’t see how you ever dreamed this was for the best, I can’t believe in these things that you pretend to see, I just don’t see how the fu*k you could think I could ever agree…”

This gloriously peeved off song may of course not be about the current occupant of the White House, but it certainly doesn’t make it difficult to make the link.

Like much of the record’s formula it is kept simple. A strong guitar drum combo to head bang to, and a lyrical axe to grind or a gruff point to make.

Other standouts include, the motivational ‘Pale Blue Ribbon’, the depression tackling ‘Worn So Thin’, and the turbulent ‘Stay’.

Overall, the Baker’s dozen of tracks is an enjoyable listen with some strong lyrics .