Against Me! | Shape Shift With Me | Rating: 9/11 |
On 2014’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, we found Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace (and she “found” herself) growling and belting her freedom in gutsy, visceral glory. It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t supposed to be: it was an honest engagement of the noise going on between the head and heart, true trans soul rebel-style. Her transformational evolution continues and the scope of her lyrical focus narrows on Shape Shift With Me by digging another side of deep and trekking through the minefield that is love, sex and relationships because – whether straight, gay, trans, cis or something in between – love is still a goddamned battlefield.
“I wanted to present the trans perspective on sex, love and heartbreak.” Grace says and her emotions are as raw as a fresh tattoo on “Boyfriend” where she vehemently balks, “You treated me like a boyfriend, some dumb fucking boyfriend.” If you pay attention to Grace on Twitter, then the riotfest that is album opener “Pro-Vision L-3” makes perfect sense. It’s not every day that you get an ode to a TSA airport scanner nor the deftly acerbic interrogation of how eyes – anthropological and otherwise – perceive Grace’s human being. Underneath it all, it’s the guitars and rhythm section’s sturdy edginess that winds up and keeps Shape Shift With Me charged up, punked up and even grounded in all the right places amongst trying to achieve some elusive emotional footing.
The struggle is real: universally so, which gives the record an easily digestible listenabilty and relatability regardless of body parts or identity, but it pulls zero punches. The outsider wants to fit into their own skin and have that skin be unconditionally loved, even if it’s just for the moment yet the superb “Crash” bares her vulnerable truth with, “I just wanna say the words to someone…I’m not a crash landing.” Zero punches as you journey through the spoken word dramatic defiance of “Norse Truth” which makes it roaringly clear that Against Me! has no immediate plans of shedding this mantle of brave realness any time soon. And music is a better art form because of it.
Header Photo Credit: Jason Thrasher