Matt Skiba & the Sekrets / Matt Skiba

Babylon

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Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba's first studio album (his solo debut, 2010's Demos, was just that, a collection of home recordings) relies heavily on the Chicago native's penchant for dark, pulpy lyrics, but while punk still serves as the foundation for Skiba's mini horror novels, Babylon introduces a likable pop sheen to the mix that both elevates and homogenizes the end product. Employing a radio-ready blend of the Cure, the Killers, and Green Day, standout cuts like "Voices," "You," and "Olivia" coast by on their soaring choruses alone, but by the time the listener reaches the seven-minute acoustic closer, "Angel of Deaf," it's hard to remember where one song started and the other began, resulting in an agreeable dark breeze of a record that stands tall but casts a small shadow.

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