REVIEW: Against Me! - Shape Shift With Me

Against Me! ... Shape Shift With Me (Total Treble/Xtra Mile Recordings).
Against Me! ... Shape Shift With Me (Total Treble/Xtra Mile Recordings).

This is the seventh full-length album by US punk/alt-rock band Against Me!

Formed in Gainesville, Florida, back in 1997, they're perhaps (and unfairly) best known for singer Laura Jane Grace coming out as transgender in 2012.

They had already enjoyed mainstream success with their 2007 album New Wave and 2010's White Crosses, which made it even braver move.

But Grace's finest moment was yet to come when Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues in 2014, to almost universal acclaim.

A fine live album last year showed the new rhythm section of Ingie Johannson (bass) and Atom Willard (drums) to be firmly bedded in alongside Grace and longtime guitarist James Bowman, and this third release in just over two years shows a band right at the top of their game.

There's not an ounce of fat among the 12 tracks, which open with the straightforward punk blast of Provision L-3.

The excellent one-two of 12:03 and Boyfriend come next, one full of yearning for a past love, and the other full of loathing, and both with the sort of killer riffs which are a feature of the album.

Delicate, Petite & Other Things I'll Never Be, underpinned throughout by a delicious bassline, sees Grace unleash her words in increasingly venomous fashion, and is one of the standout songs.

Lots of the lyrics concern sex and love, and there's a bit of a stylistic shift too, with lead track 333 sounding more like the white-collar punk of The Gaslight Anthem.

Rebecca is more frenzied, and starts a run of four songs which bring the record to a thriling conclusion with Norse Truth taking things up a notch, and Suicide Bomber introducing a bluesy-rock feel.

The straightforward rock of the closing All This (And More) shows they are capable of writing a radio-friendly single too, and ends the album on a real high note.

It's a record which gets better with every listen, and is rapidly becoming one of my favourite albums of the year so far. 8/10.