This album should really be called ‘Marmite’
It seems a strange thing to write a review of an album, that has openly been leaked for quite some time now, but, with me not being part of the illegal download nation is seems appropriate to write this for the actual release date. An album that seems to have torn Against Me! fans down the centre, ladies and gentleman…White Crosses.
The album begins with the album’s title track. A perfect start to the record, it has a driving drum beat, a big arse chorus and enough sing-a-long hooks to keep the audience striving to tear their throats up that little bit more. The songs background comes from white crosses for aborted babies, a subject singer Tom Gabel blasts into on the songs chorus, “White crosses on the church lawns, I wanna smash them all.”
The second track is the bands first single from this record, and a story from Tom’s childhood where during his teenage years he was beaten up by the police. The song itself is a lovely gem of popped up punk rock, and the obvious choice for a single. Not only due to it’s catchy, anarchist-laden accessibility, which caters to both the mainstream moguls and the more ‘hardcore’ AM! fans. How people can confuse better album production (kudos Butch Vig) as ‘selling out’ is beyond me. It’s similar chord progression and song subjects as always.
One thing I doubt any ‘sell out’-labelling AM! fan can dispute, is how goddamn interesting the song subjects are. Because of the Shame is no exception. The song tells the story of a lost love from the past and a funeral procession in her honour. For such morose lyrical content, the musicality of the track is actually quite upbeat, not necessarily happy but more with the punk rock pound familiar with the AM boys. “I watched your mother bury you today, with tears in her eyes. It wasn’t her words that shook me, it was the resemblance you shared.” If that doesn’t bring a tear to the eye of every single listener, then you’re a bunch of heartless bastards.
Next up is Suffocation, which is definitely going to be a fan favourite if not already. The chorus is by far this songs strong point, not to put down anything else about it, but it completely adheres to the fist in the air punk rock mentality AM have previously been so famed for.
Track 5, or We’re Breaking Up as it’s named, is the first song on the album that seems to have strayed away from the usual Against Me! style and taken a more Gabel solo approach. That being said, it is reminiscent of Borne On the FM Waves Of the Heart, from 2007’s New Wave. I make these comparisons lightly, as in no way is this track simply a re-scripted version of that song or Gabel’s solo efforts.
Probably my favourite track on the album, and from what I hear, a few other peoples too. High Pressure Low see’s AM at their best. Rocking hard, fast, with yet another juicy as fuck chorus for everyone to get their teeth into. Politically tinged, socially outspoken words from the mouth of one of the few punk rock spokesmen left in modern times, fronting one of the few true punk rock bands of the past decade. HPL is a perfect example of why White Crosses haters can fuck right off.
It wouldn’t be an Against Me! record without some form of acoustic installment, this comes in the form of Ache With Me, a beautiful song telling a tale of cynicism, confusion, defeat and isolation portrayed in the usual “sway with me” (bad joke) way that works so damn well when acoustic guitars are implemented into this bands music.
A drastic change as the listener is thrown head first into Spanish Moss, probably the hardest hitting track on the entire record, as far as fan favourites go I can imagine this song being one of the bands favourite songs to play.
It seems I was wrong, as not only is the momentum matched with Rapid Decompression but it’s blown right out of the water. This is true punk rock if I ever heard it, angry, tough yet up-beat and slightly playful. RD is the the most ‘punk’ song on the record, with a repeated hook, heavily distorted guitar riffs, a catchy arpeggio pre-verse riff, a gut-wrenching bassline, drums that sound like they just might explode, pick slides (well one anyway) and all this in under 2 minutes. Fuck yeah.
The album ends with Bamboo Bones which apart from being a pretty freaking cool name for a tune, is vocally the strongest track on the entire record. Vocals aside the song itself is a powerful ballad which seems to be a homage to AM fans telling them to aim for their dreams and all the usual inspiring stuff, but hell, it not only works, but works really fucking well.
P.S George Rebelo from Hot Water Music drums on this record, we’re now best friends, you can ask him.