By: Chris Pacifico
In the back of their heads, Against Me!'s devoted legions of fans knew it was bound to happen some day, an idea repressed until it became all too real. That's right, Against Me! - one of the ultimate DIY punk rock bands of our day with a fuck-the-record-industry-and-everyone-in-it ethos - has finally made a major label release. But, it is Sire, the same label that spawned acts like The Ramones, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Radio Birdman, etc. Then again, this isn't the late 70's or early 80's.
New Wave is sub par yet it's not so much that the blame can be laid on the label they now call home. Most of it has to do with the insane amount of over polishing in the production, even though it was Butch Vig of Nevermind and Garbage fame was in the producer's seat. It's as if frontman and brainchild Tom Gabel has all but abandoned his rickety folk-punk aesthetic on an album that completely lacks the grainy grit of Against Me's earlier works like Reinventing Axl Rose - a paramount moment amongst all of their fans.
Against Me! has always been able to fire up crowds with their mostly three chord guitar fed party punk but most of the songs here sound too similar to the one that preceded it in the sequencing. "Thrash Unreal" is a catchy sing-along, while "White People For Peace" is a rowdy, fiery jaunt with one of the best song titles this year. "Americans Abroad" is an essential addition to any podcast that wants the perfect mix remembrance of 2007, and "Born on the FM Waves of Heart," a duet with Tegan Quinn of the extremely over-buzzed duo Tegan and Sara, just sinks like a boulder in a lake.
Lyrically, Gabel's intentions are all well and good. After all, there are a lot of artists, especially those on major labels, that are too timid to speak on the shitty shape of things in the world today but the instrumental and production dynamics desperately need tweaking.
JamBase | Florida
Go See Live Music!