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Album Review

Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me


One of punk rock’s most vital bands.

Label: Xtra Mile Recordings
Released: 16th September 2016

Rating: ★★★★★

After 2014’s ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’, it’s bizarre to believe that Against Me!’s future was ever a matter of uncertainty. Laura Jane Grace and co.’s ongoing metamorphosis has not only propelled them back to their status as one of punk rock’s most beloved bands, but it’s also allowed for an album as expansive and extravagant as ‘Shape Shift With Me’.

Against Me! have always been about way more than just three-chord fury (with the possible exception of frantic opener ‘Provision L-3’), and standout track ‘Boyfriend’ takes on a Weezer-esque philosophy of being perfectly simple and simply perfect on its chorus. Its infusions of college rock offer a refreshing turn of pace for the band, and a lot of the album follows suit in taking cues from other genres.

As the totemic personality that she has become, Laura Jane’s influence and attitude spreads way beyond the scores of slam-dancing kids who congregate before her night after night. She’s a spokesperson for the LGBT community and a defiant voice against dinosaur ideals, and when she reaches her critical peak of lip-curling rage on ‘Norse Truth’, it’s borderline psychotic.

As brash and brilliant as her vocal performance is, this is anything but The Laura Jane Grace Show. Guitarist James Bowman is one of the most underrated guitarist of his time, leaving his effortless cool across the bouncier likes of ‘Rebecca’ and ’12:03’.

The darkly disco beat of ‘Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be’ is the defining moment for the rhythm section now fully at home in the band. Embracing the ‘soul’ in AM!’s true trans soul rebellion, bassist Inge Johannson and drummer Atom Willard punch through any remaining sense of obscurity and give ‘Dead Rats’ and ‘Suicide Bomber’ plenty of slick, hip-shaking allure.

As charismatic as it is cathartic, ‘Shape Shift With Me’ keeps Against Me!’s saga of reinvention as unpredictable as the cruel world that it will shake the foundations of. Taking a boot to more doors than any of their previous works have, this album is the sign that Against Me! are no longer one of punk rock’s most beloved bands. They’re now one of punk rock’s most vital bands. Danny Randon