Album Review: Against Me! - Shape Shift with Me
By Marvin Dotiyal, Contributor
[Total Treble Music; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Rebecca,” “333,” “Boyfriend”
Against Me’s latest release shows what they are all about: old-school punk. Against Me refuses to conform to new-school punk, sticking it up with what you would hear commonly in the underground local shows. However, with a blend of $5 choruses and some power chords, Shape Shift with Me is a “C+ at best” record that proves the band’s love for punk music, but lacks in having an innovative sound.
To put it bluntly, the songs on the record aren’t half-bad, but they aren’t half-good either. Shape Shift with Me is composed of extraordinarily average guitar riffing and half-assed hooks that could use some polishing. But hey, this is punk after all—they do what they want. Regardless, there are a couple of songs that definitely deserve to be on the spotlight, such as “Rebecca,” “333” and “Boyfriend.”
“Rebecca” is one of the catchiest tracks on the album. The song starts off energetically with an uptempo beat accompanied by a warm wall of power chords, giving off an early pop-punk vibe as well as a Ramones-like sound. “333” seems to be that one typical radio-friendly track from an album that everyone can stand, not to mention it shows the singer’s different vocal style. In addition, the vocals in the album ranges from wild screaming to calm serenading, a fascinating aspect to pay attention to throughout the album.
Keeping in mind that frontwoman Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012, some songs and lyrics express her emotions of love from a transgender perspective rather than focusing on the common topics of punk. “Boyfriend” is an interesting track with a swooning melody revealing Grace’s romantic desires as a transgender woman.
Although all of these tracks are not necessarily bad, they bring nothing new to the table other than their lyrical themes. It seems like the band took a quick time shift back to old school punk rather than what the album title suggests—a shape shift.
But consider this: A punk band writing songs about transgender love? That’s pretty punk.