Being their seventh studio album, you’d be expecting Against Me! to be carrying years of experience into the creation of their new album Shape Shift With Me – and you wouldn’t be wrong. After vocalist Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender four years ago, it’s clear to see that this album is based around her transformation, and the perception of love and sex when being transgender, the power, the viciousness and the massive ‘fuck you’ is prominent throughout.
As well as the issues mentioned, the band also tackle social and political problems, noticeably in ‘Suicide Bomber’ which was written shortly after the Paris attacks and ProVision L-3 which is about the high security airport checks. ProVision L-3 is the first song on the album and the angry punk rock comes blaring through from the first note, with vocalist Laura repeatedly shouting the title of the track and later on mentions ‘a culture of suspicion’. Third track ‘Boyfriend’ is definitely one of the stand out tracks for addressing her personal problems as Laura brings in lines like ‘Treat me like a boyfriend / some dumb fucking boyfriend’. You can clearly hear the upset in her voice as she’s made to feel unaccepted after coming out transgender, and that her partner doesn’t appreciate her for who she is.
A standout track 333 is situated in the middle of the album, most probably saving the dullest section of the release. It’s a classic Against Me! track and it’s almost rap like where Laura’s tried to fit too many words in one sentence, but it works – and well. There’s a strong and catchy guitar riff in-between verses, but of course all leading to the massive sing-a-long choruses, not too many to get boring but not too little to feel under appreciated.
The vocals drop in the track Dead Rat and you see Laura basically speaking the lyrics showing how exhausted and fed up she is with life, and this is really effective – especially as the track is one of the final on the release. It feels like the audience is taken through a journey of political issues, terrorism and Laura’s personal life through her love, abuse and transformation.
The final song All This (And More) seems a lot slower than a lot of the other tracks and comes across as a sort of punk ballad. It’s based on things that Laura wants to forget and the emotional lines like ‘160 miles to Cincinnati / Plastic Christ, my hearts breaking in my chest / 160 miles to regret’ sits on a slow and deep baseline before breaking into the chorus of ‘All this and more to forget’. After what seems to be a barrel of abuse from ex partners, the last verse closes with ‘I somehow ended up missing your kind of crazy more than the rest’ and seems to be projected so much more emotionally than the rest of the song.
Overall, a brilliant album. It is truly a look into the world of being transgender and showing the world that you don’t care. There are thousands of albums that show normal love and their breakups, but not many that show love from the perspective of a transgender individual. It’s an eye-opener and definitely another quality instalment in Against Me!‘s discography.