Superball Music – Release Date: 5/08/12
Babylon marks the debut of Matt Skiba’s latest solo endeavor and the results are surprisingly positive. It’s definitely his best solo release yet and arguably the most memorable record he’s made in the last ten years. Also appearing on the album are AFI bassist Hunter Burgan and My Chemical Romance drummer Jarrod Alexander, both of whom do a skilled and dutiful job, but thankfully don’t get too flashy. This is imperative because they don’t overshadow what’s most important here, and that’s the exceptional songwriting. Babylon kicks off with of “Voices” and “All Fall Down”, which represent two of the record’s strongest tracks. Both are hyper-melodic and very much in the vein of Alkaline Trio’s From Here to Infirmary. They feature inspired lyrics and a renewed vocal strength from Skiba, and fortunately those characteristics are present throughout the album. “Haven’t You?” first appeared on Skiba’s 2010 full-length Demos, but here the heartfelt ballad is enhanced with the addition of keyboards and a rhythm section. Other high points include the haunting anthem that is “You” and the huge, infectious chorus of “How the Hell Did We Get Here?” Babylon concludes with a somber acoustic number called “Angel of Deaf”, and it ranks up there with Skiba’s best stripped-down closers, like “Sorry About That” and “Blue in the Face.” All in all, this is a catchy summertime record that doesn’t lose its appeal with repeated listens. Skiba’s voice sounds great and his writing is in top form, and hopefully that carries over to the next Trio album. Those searching for quality new music shouldn’t delay in checking this out.