Against Me!
Searching for a Former Clarity


4.0
excellent

Review

by PuddleSplasher USER (2 Reviews)
May 22nd, 2007 | 29 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What would happen if Stephan Malkmus had a relative named Justin who died in Iraq, so he decided to become more political and construct his lyrics more coherently, while the band played faster to match the pissed off tone in Stephan’s voice.

Tom Gabel sure does love his irony, and I’m not quite sure if his fans are aware of it. I mean, I know punk fans were really never the smartest fellows (i.e. the Mohawk) but I once read somewhere that someone hadn’t heard the song, but believed “Even at Our Worst, We’re Still Better than Most” to be the most self-indulgent song of all-time. Well, you see it’s really quite ironic considering the lyrics are some of the most self-deprecating and the mood of the song is really quite the opposite of what the title would entail. Regardless, it seems that some people don’t have the time to read between the lines.

Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe since I wasn’t there when it was just Gabel alone with an acoustic guitar and an anarchist manifesto playing in a dumpster, I have no idea what I’m talking about. But does it really matter what venue and what instruments the band supporting him is playing? Isn’t it better that the message is getting out to a wider audience now than to people that were already in support of all the ideas Gabel had to offer? I mean Tom Gabel’s lyrics are just as catchy and political as ever, with choruses like that of “From Her Lips to God's Ears (The Energizer)” where Gabel just screams “Condoleezza” and takes numerous jabs at the Bush administration. The topic may be a bit played out by now, but Gabel’s use of metaphor and way with words gives it a refreshing approach. And then, of course, there’s the lead single “Don’t Lose Touch”, while it may make “old” Against Me! fans cringe with it’s upbeat bass line and harmonizing chorus, it’s hard not to love lyrics like “SOS texted from a cell phone/Please tell me I'm not the only one/That thinks we're taking ourselves too seriously/Just a little too enamored with inflated self purpose./talk is cheap and it doesn't mean much”. And then of course there is the title track, which details the last moments of a sick man with just the help of drums and the occasional chord. But Gabel’s lyrics and vocals turn it into one of the band’s most tragic, beautiful songs recorded.

While lyrically, Gabel kept his game about even with all previous works, the instrumentation is better than ever. It may irk some that Against Me! is becoming less and less of the acoustic band they grew up as and moving on to a more electric sound, but it is hard to argue that the band hasn’t grown as musicians. It seems as if lead guitarist James Bowman listened to a hell of a lot of Pavement before writing the parts for the album. Each riff is like a stick of cotton candy. Messy as hell, but that just adds to the sweetness. Every sloppy note is played to perfection and the sloppy chord progression of the aforementioned “Even at Our Worst, We’re Better than Most” is hard not to love. But in the middle of the album, Gabel returns to his roots to play some folk-influenced tunes with just him and an acoustic guitar, before moving on to some poppy tunes (singles “Problems” and “Don’t Lose Touch”) and finally closing with the perfect closer of a song “Searching for a Former Clarity”.

Honestly, each Against Me! album has been better than the last. They just keep growing as musicians and creating more complex, intricate songs, but still they have yet to release a perfect album, but with the next release coming out within the next couple months I certainly have high hopes for what the band has next up their sleeve.


user ratings (449)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Two-Headed Boy
May 22nd 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really don't get Pavement at all from this album..

But otherwise, pretty good review.

PuddleSplasher
May 22nd 2007


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was really thinking of the first 3 songs on CR, CR where the guitar is just so sloppy but mmmmm, so good, but whatever, to each his own I guess.

Intransit
May 22nd 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album still takes my breath away when I listen to it. My personal favorite of all time tbh. Pretty good review. Just reminds me that I need to rewrite and resubmit mine.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't get the Pavement/Malkmus comparisons like at all. Maybe lyrically, but thats it.This Message Edited On 05.22.07

Intransit
May 22nd 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I agree about the Pavement thing =

Oh and you definitely aren't the only one who understands the band's supreme penchant for irony, although you are one of the few. I know exactly how you feel.

tectactoe
May 22nd 2007


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I just picked up this album a few months ago, and I really like it a lot.

tom79
May 22nd 2007


3384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally bought it!This Message Edited On 09.09.07

Digging: Bent Outta Shape - Bent Outta Shape

Two-Headed Boy
May 23rd 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Get this album next tom.

RISEAGAINST8934
May 24th 2007


15 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fuck who ever wrote this reveiw im not dumb and i have a mohawk

iarescientists
May 24th 2007


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol

Intransit
May 24th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Massive lulz right there.

Kiran
Emeritus
September 13th 2009


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

CONDOLEEEEEZA (condoleeeeza)
CONDOLEEEEEZA (condoleeeeza)
what are we gonna do nowwww

bloc
January 10th 2010


35024 Comments


i'm loosin toooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuccccccchhhhhh!

hoipolloi
May 4th 2010


152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is good shit, hopefully its not the last good album these guys release cuz their new stuff is not quite so awesome

kitsch
May 4th 2010


5107 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

best songs here are joy, even at our worst..., searching for a former clarity, mediocrity, and dont lose touch

also wtf is up with the pavement comparisons

hoipolloi
May 6th 2010


152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah i don't see the pavement comparison either...

mxbrady
February 4th 2012


1445 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It makes me sad to listen to this and realize how much better Against Me!'s legacy would have been if they had just stopped or broken up right after this album...

ohfoxxxycole
February 4th 2012


4353 Comments


this is more like flaming lips than pavement

JackSparrow
August 16th 2012


1686 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album is terribly underrated, Miami and Justin are so great. Has anyone else seen the band live since Laura's change? They rule

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2012


50960 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah rules, would love to see them live

Digging: Friendzone - Collection 1



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