Against Me – “Shape Shift with Me”
Laura Jane Grace and the guys are back with a vengeance. Coming off of their most successful album yet, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me looked make another huge splash in the punk rock genre.
In a press release from the original announcement of Shape Shift with Me, Grace touched on what this album would address.
“Tons of people have written about love. But while love is cliché, it’s infinitely relevant. For me, having always been in a punk band that was expected to be political, I never felt like I had that option to write about feelings in that way. That’s what I ended up being drawn to this time. It’s writing in a way I thought I could never write before, and not giving a shit about expectations.
Is there a record that is about relationships from a trans perspective? There needs to be more records about trans rights and everything like that, but feeling like I already did that, I wanted to move on to write commentary on living from a trans perspective. I wanted to write the transgender response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St., Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville and the Streets’ A Grand Don’t Come For Free. All those records are relationship records. There’s been an infinite amount of records talking about what love means from a cisgender perspective. I wanted to present the trans perspective on sex, love and heartbreak.”
Shape Shift With Me has a different feel than other Against Me records, which immediately catches your attention. The album feels more upbeat than usual but the topics discussed are still as raw as ever, as shown in an interview on Billboard’s “Alt in Our Stars” podcast.
“I was freshly out of a marriage and approaching dating for the first time as an [openly] trans person,” Grace said. “You turn on the radio and most pop music is a guy or a girl singing about falling in love with someone, having their heart broken by somebody or wanting to fuck somebody. That should be valid from a trans perspective as well.”
As the album progresses, it feels like we are headed on a personal relationship-centered journey with Laura Jane Grace. Her booming vocals lead the way through twelve fantastic tracks that all touch on their own topics.
We have songs like “Boyfriend”, that feature Grace unleashing, “You’re treating me like a boyfriend / Some dumb fucking boyfriend / Lie to me, right through me”. Or “333”, which features Grace saying throughout the chorus, “I wanna be as close as I can get to you.”
Whether it is punk rock or not, this album has feelings, that one is certain. Against Me brings it just as well as they ever have, allowing the listener to take a deeper look into what the life of Laura Jane Grace is like. This comes just a few months before Laura Jane Grace’s memoir drops, which will give us an even deeper look into her life.
Either way, this album gets a strong 4 out of 5 stars from me. Self-admitting, I am a big Against Me fan but I won’t lead you down the wrong path here. Shape Shift with Me is well worth the listen and the journey throughout is fantastic.