Against Me!

New Wave

Written by: AG on 17/07/2007 13:29:59

Even anarchists can get a deal with a major. You can scream your lungs out about blowing up buildings, you can mock spineless liberals, you might still end up whining about your royalties. You can be on Plan-it X playing folk/Punk, or you might end up making a punk-influenced rock album produced by Butch Vig. Be sure that Against Me!'s new album, the long-awaited and much-anticipated "New Wave", will be mocked by countless so-called 'true fans' of Against Me! whose CD player is glued with "Reinventing Axl Rose". But those people miss the essential: even after having signed with Sire, Tom Gabel is still pissed and oh-so political, he's still the same intelligent songwriter and subtle lyricist.

As for the music, it sure is different from the anarcho-folk/punk they once wrote, it's even different from the material on "Searching For A Former Clarity". We are welcomed into the album by the title track, which despite its name doesn't really bring anything new to Against Me!'s music, but smoothly introduces the listener to the most important lyrical theme of the album, mainstream music and the "quest for a new wave", in a traditional community-empowerement way: "We can be the bands we want to hear. We can define our own generation.". The songs remain upbeat throughout the 5 first tracks, catchy and melodic. Gabel's voice is still raw and you can feel every note emerging from his throat. Classic Against Me? Not Really. "Thrash Unreal" is a hook-filled song with back vocals straight out of the latest Weezer album, and a chorus that will stick in your head for days. "Stop!" feels like a Village People reprise and still manages not to be too out of place.

The second half of the 10-songs-long album sees Against Me! exploring new musical and lyrical territories. Bar "Piss And Vinegar" and "Americans Abroad" which resemble lesser versions of the first 5 songs, the other 3 tracks feel like experimentation. Especially "Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart", a mid-tempo duet featuring Tegan from Tegan And Sara that slowly grows from shy guitars and refrained statements into a faster, all-guitars-out, vocal explosion. The sludgy "Animal", bored me from first listen, but fortunately the album finishes on a good note with "The Ocean", a dark but somehow-refreshing song about Gabel wanting to be born a woman (among others).

New Wave isn't free of missteps, and i have doubts about its lasting value. Still I've listened to it 10 times in the past 2 days and I can't seem to let go of choruses as great as "White People For Peace", and "Stop!" gets me dancing everytime. This is a very solid album, catchy, raw and appealing to everyone who likes rock music. Against Me! is changing from album to album, and this is one of the better albums. You can't blame Gabel for growing-up and writing different stuff than he has, and you sure can't honestly call Against Me! sell-outs, despite them being on Warner. As featured in "Those Anarcho Punx Are Mysterious", an early song from the band, "It's so much less confusing when lines are drawn like that, When people are either consumers or revolutionaries."


Download: White People For Peace, Stop!
For the fans of: The Lawrence Arms, Anti-Flag, Hot Water Music
Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.07.2007
Sire Records

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