Established pop-punk band lacks originality in new album

Lead singer Laura Jane Grace, of pop-punk band Against Me!, belts words of heartbreak and longing in the band’s seventh full length album, “Shape Shift With Me.”  

It was only a few years ago when Grace came out to the public as transgender and started the process of gender change. The previous album the band released, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” was fueled with destruction of her gender given at birth and had an all around more thrash folk-punk vibe. “Shape Shift With Me” has a notably different approach that has the band falling under a more typical pop-punk genre, even more so than they already have in the past.

Despite the more upbeat and seemingly anthem rock-driven chorus in songs like “Boyfriend” and “Crash,” the album is still sprinkled with leftist remarks and punk-style lyrics that longtime fans can still appreciate.

The album kicks off with a song called “ProVision L3.” ProVision L3 is a security x-ray system used often now at airports. It provides a very structural viewing of the human body, which is a bit evasive. Keeping Against Me!’s discography in mind, assuming the song is a judgement on national security is expected, but the last few lines repeating, “What can you see inside of me?” gather feelings of self-awareness and concern. It became very clear this album would be almost like a continuation of the previous album, only this one would let Grace explore herself more in an intimate way.

Grace is known for her keen lyrics and incredibly construed imagery of emotions. Taking that into account, the impact and strength of her lyricism isn’t fully exemplified well in this album. The instrumentation is bland in some songs and it greatly holds songs from their full potential.

The song “333” lyrics, “I saw the ‘The Renowned Orders of the Night’ in person. Why would I ever meet that with irony or cynicism?” are so clever, but the song is riddled with simple guitar chugging and a pretty basic drum beat. It misses the rhythmic instrumentation that shined in previous albums. The same could be said to the anthem rock songs mentioned.

What makes the album still worth listening to is the consistency Grace has kept with her lyricism. It keeps the spirit of Against Me! alive despite the lack of creativity found in the music itself.