Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me (Xtra Mile)
Genre – Punk
In 2014 Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues, an album that grabbed you by the balls, took you on a ride and give the world a big fuck you.
Two years later, the Florida-based punks are back with similar anger, minus some of the punch that give Transgender Dysphoria Blues its raw energy.
This lighter approach has led to some negative whispers around the punk scene, particularly in America, with the change in Laura Jane Grace’s vocals being noted in particular.
Despite this, Against Me! has put together another tremendous piece of work and are perhaps victims of their own success, so give this album a few listens before casting judgment.
Opening with 1974 Ramones style frenzy, ProVision L-3 is a short, blood fueling number that sets the tone for the rest of the album in a rough and ready style, with muffled vocals and a strong focus on James Bowman’s guitar.
While Grace’s vocals appear slightly softer on this album, there is no sign of this in 12-03, a vocal heavy track that sees her trademark deep vocals coming to life, with shredding guitars and hard hitting drums.
Much like Transgender Dysphoria Blues and New Wave, Grace explores the deeper elements of her sexuality with Delicate, Petite and Other Things I’ll Never Be. With a melody crafted in similar fashion to their 2007 track Ocean, Grace brings a new level of resentment to the table, describing herself as ‘the dirt under your nails’ in a number that combines ranting vocals with classic Against Me! riffs and smashing symbols.
Much of the criticism of this album was based around the lack of power behind the first single from the album, 333 (released last month), where Grace’s vocals take less focus than usual and find themselves lost amongst a wall of sound.
After a few listens, the power of 333 becomes much clearer and the catchy chorus gives birth to a song that will fit nicely into the energy of their live shows.
In addition to 333, Boyfriend, Crash and Rebecca will offer exactly what Against Me! fans are looking for, with the fast paced energy of each making them perfect for a good old punk rock style pogo in a hot, sweaty venue.
Shape Shift With Me is a carefully crafted album that offers a mix of fury, excitement and beautiful word play depicting the struggles of Grace, who as always, puts her whole heart into the album and once again bares her sole to the punk community, making for an excellent piece of work.
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