Review: Against Me!’s ‘Shape Shift’ Searches for Post-Transition Love
On Against Me!’s explosive punk-rock treatise, 2014’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, frontwoman Laura Jane Grace, who came out as trans in 2012, sang a battle cry for the freedom to live her truth. But the Florida punks’ most recent LP begs a thornier question: How do you find love inside that freedom? This wouldn’t really be an AM! record without an opening track like “ProVision L-3,” a blistering repudiation of U.S. surveillance culture. But offering what she calls “the trans perspective on sex, love and heartbreak,” Grace usually tilts from protest into the personal, swashbuckling her way in and out of some torrid love affairs, a tad wiser and grittier with every track. The band hits peak playful in “Crash,” a space-age love song with a power-pop boost; then slinks into an underworld of self-loathing through crushing, noir-ish ragers like “Delicate, Petite & Other Things I’ll Never Be” and “Norse Truth.” Bolstered by whip-smart lyricism and indelible riffs, Grace bares her sensual, sentimental side – but not without a few swift kicks in the eye.