Against Me!

Total Clarity

Written by: PP on 25/06/2011 01:23:20

For those Against Me! fans who have only discovered the band upon their major label albums "New Wave" and "White Crosses", a release like "Total Clarity" may come as a complete shock. Comprising of demos and unreleased songs from their "Searching For A Former Clarity" (2005) sessions, this album presents Against Me! in a totally different light than the polished guitars and pop melodies of those albums. Although "Searching For A Former Clarity" was a far cry from the raw screaming on "Reinventing Axl Rose" or the anarchist lyrics of "As The Eternal Cowboy", it was still a punk album at heart, where rebellion and protest against the corporate culture of America were in key roles all along. "Total Clarity" presents a glimpse into the inner workings of Against Me! prior to studio albums, much like "The Original Cowboy" from a couple of years ago which featured the same concept for "As The Eternal Cowboy".

Now, think long and hard how Tom Gabel sounds like on the newer Against Me! albums. He sounds almost like a pop singer with slight undertones and nuances from his punk background. Then pop on "Total Clarity" and notice the raw fury, the passion, and the sense for aggressive melody in a folk punk format that exists in his delivery. A song like "Violence" is slower than any Against Me! song, but yet the intensity and emotional-charge is almost touchable by hand. Then you have the raw punk'n'roller like "Miami", which is just an excellent song all around, the bouncy "Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners" (which foreshadows "New Wave" material if you pay attention), the raw shouting in "The Mover", and the sublime quiet/loud dynamic of "Holy Shit". Sure, "New Wave" and "White Crosses" are good albums, but listening to these songs you can't help but think that the band used to write songs that were both technically and lyrically more challenging, not to even mention catchier in many ways despite being raw and more punk.

What "Total Clarity" does best, however, is to demonstrate a time when Against Me! still had a burning fire inside of them, a sociopolitical rage that wasn't put out so easily. Today, none of that exists in their sound, as the band has evolved into something completely different. As a fan of both material, I'll still have to admit that the songs on "Total Clarity", which are demos from their possibly best album "Searching For A Former Clarity", are just a hell of a lot better than anything else the band has written since then. And you know what else? If you thought the really old Against Me! is too hardcore, too much screaming, then this is the album that shows the perfect middle ground between poppy melody and raw delivery.


Download: Miami, Violence, Holy Shit
For the fans of: Fake Problems, Joyce Manor, The Menzingers, The Lawrence Arms
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.05.2011
Fat Wreck Chords

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