REVIEW: Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me

shape-shift-with-me-cover

Against Me! are back! The Gainesville quartet have had to deal with a lot of change since 2012 with Laura Jane Grace coming out as transgender, members leaving and the worry that the band may not be able to continue under the name Against Me! In that time, however, Laura Jane Grace has been very loud indeed! Having publicly announced that she is transgender in May 2012, Laura Grace has been a leading ambassador for trans people all over the world. The amount of admiration and respect we have for her can’t be put into words, but to have such a strong woman as a role model for so many people is a wonderful thing. But we digress- let’s talk about the new album shall we?

Shape Shift With Me is the seventh studio album by Against Me!, and living up to the reputation and praise that befell their 2014 efforts Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a tall order. Fortunately, the album lives up to all expectations. The opening track ‘ProVision L-3′ doesn’t fuck about and hits hard with all the punk vibes that nearly 20 years of experience brings. Although this opening track is a stereotypical punk song, that’s not the overriding sound of the album; there are many different things at work here. ‘Haunting, Haunted, Haunts’ being a prime example; to start the track with a more country/folk style guitar riff is a nice change of pace and keeps the listeners intrigued as to  what else could appear on this album.

Over the years Against Me! have refined their song-writing process until it became quite a solitary experience for Laura Jane Grace; however Shape Shift with Me was more open-minded, taking ideas from all members, which works in their favour. The pop catchiness of ‘Rebecca’, the reflective sentimentalism of ‘Crash’, the raw aggression of ‘ProVision L-3′: this album has it all. For all its accomplishments, this album doesn’t sound polished. It’s rough and raw and gritty. It sounds exactly as it should. The production by Marc Jacob Hudson (Saves The Day, Taking Back Sunday) is perfection.

Could Shape Shift with Me be the new gold standard in punk? Is it the new pinnacle in the career of Against Me!? Will it stand the test of time? We don’t know but Shape Shift with Me has set the bar very high indeed.

Shape Shift With Me by Against Me! is out now via Total Treble / Xtra Mile Recordings.

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