Babylon (Superball Music)
By Mike Delano
Matt Skiba has a history of making great punk pop as the frontman of Alkaline Trio, so it should come as no surprise that his winning streak continues on Babylon, the first album under the Matt Skiba and the Sekrets moniker. The only surprise may be the lack of surprises: The 10 tracks here are all catchy and joyfully propulsive, often belying the melancholy subject matter. The tempo only slows down occasionally, which serves to highlight Skiba’s great voice (“Haven’t You”), but can also lead to a little indulgence (“Angel of Deaf”). Babylon is much better on forceful, tight songs like the darkly romantic “The End of Joy” or the album’s highlight, “Olivia,” a paean to a disintegrated relationship that nonetheless feels like a love letter to pain (“I can feel you here like hunger/ it’s building up like snow”). Heartbreak rarely sounds this good.