Album Review: Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me

Album Review: Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me

Band: Against Me!
Album: Shape Shift With Me
Genre: Punk/Folk rock
Date of Release: 16/09/2016
Location: Florida, United States
Reviewer: 5StringSamurai
For Fans Of: Rancid, Hot Water Music

Track Listing:
1. ProVision
2. 12-03
3. Boyfriend
4. Crash
5. Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be
6. 333
7. Haunting, Haunted, Haunts
8. Dead Rats
9. Rebecca
10. Norse Truth
11. Suicide Bomber
10. All Of This And More

The primary focus of all martial arts is self-defence. Its easy to swing a tachi (sword) and cause grievous harm, easier yet to point a gun and pull the trigger. True skill lies in learning how to avoid these situations or, if that is not possible, how to counter them and gain the upper hand. An equally import lesson to learn is that its not just physical attacks that you need to be able to defend against. Attacks on your character, beliefs and identity can be just as damaging, not only to your psyche, they can be used in a way to provoke you into physical combat where the enraged mind may falter into making a mistake. The calm mind has a much better chance of seeing through the fog to avoid falling into the trap.

In this day and age, it is perhaps more important to learn how to defend against the non-physical attacks than the physical. We are much more likely to come across internet bullying/trolling, discrimination, homophobia, and racism than roving street gangs of armed thugs. You’re number one technique against these attacks is self confidence but this is also easier said then done. We all hope that as we grow and learn more about the world we live in so to will we learn more about ourselves but by the same token we can also be mislead about the nature of the world and in turn be mislead about the nature of ourselves.

Shape Shift With Me is an album about such growth. Singer Laura Jane Grace was quoted as saying that this album is about relationships from the transgender perspective, but there are sentiments within the lyrics of the record that all human being should be able to identify with. Songs such as album opener ‘ProVision’ and ‘Delicate’, Petite, & Other Things I’ll Never Be’ offer up lines such as “What can you see inside of me?” and “I wanna know how you see you”, which speak towards the need for validation and the desire to connect and relate to others. There is also a polarising theme of realness and lies throughout the album, exploring the juxtaposition of conviction and confusion as we search to discover ourselves.

The lyrical content overlays the well structured musical arrangements. The tone of the drums is bold and deep and thumps throughout the record. The bass is prominent in the mix and carries the melody of the songs while the rhythm of the guitars wash over the top with well placed lead lines for emphases. Songwriting collaborations on a couple of tracks from The Blood Brothers Cody Votolato adds a dirtier tone to the record with the distorted bass at the forefront of Norse Truth in particular standing out on the album.

All of these elements combine to creative a deep and emotive listening experience. By abstaining from the political approach of earlier Against Me! albums, Shape Shift With Me connects on a personal level with the narrative speaking directly to and from the heart. This is not to discredit the impact of their earlier works but it is clear that something has changed nay shifted within the dynamic of the band for this record. The introspective and examining approach helps to strengthen ones own core beliefs in themselves. The realisation that you are both the real and the lie allows you to understand your strengths and weakness and build a platform to stand strong on and fortify your defences. Even when your core beliefs and the world around you changes.

Vocals: 8/10
Lyrics: 8/10
Guitar: 7/10
Bass: 8/10
Percussion: 7/10
Songwriting: 8/10
Production: 9/10
Personal Enjoyment: 7/10
Overall IPHYB Rating: 8/10

Standout Tracks: 333, Norse Truth

Album Review: Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me
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