Against Me!
New Wave


2.5
average

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
July 9th, 2007 | 87 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ranked against the hordes of all music being produced in the world, this is still upper echelon, as it features a unique band producing good music, but when stacked up against the band's back catalogue, this release feels like a further dilution of Agains

I go through phases. For songs it's fairly seasonal. Winter 2004-2005: "Owl" by Hopesfall. Fall 2005: "Juarez, Mexico Part 2" by In Pieces. Winter 2006: "7th Heaven" by Tera Melos. Spring 2006: "Goonies Never Say Die" by Set Your Goals. Spring 2007: "Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious..." by Against Me! When obsessively listening to "Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious..." I couldn't get enough of the Against Me! style, and that one song embodied it all. The vocals are gravely, rough, and charismatic. The overall singing and playing are perfectly sloppy in their rubato. The instruments all have clean tones but are played in such a vigorous fashion that they are rendered distorted. Even the production reeks of a punk sensibility with its reverb room mic tones and the gang vocals. The lyrics too, though unapologetically political are sung with candor, and perfectly fit the music. It's just a fuckin great song. Maybe the only thing absent is drumming, which on every other song on Reinventing Axl Rose is wonderfully upbeat and galloping. Against Me! had carved out a beautiful niche of folk, punk, and feel-good rock and roll that brought them a lot of praise from both critics and fans. As the Eternal Cowboy diluted the formula a little bit but still delivered a pretty clutch album. Searching for a Former Clarity seemed to be a step away from a lot of the aesthetic choices that made their previous works so appealing. The album wasn't nearly as rough hewn or sloppy as previous albums. They really tightened up their sound. The vocals were still gravely but their delivery was less off the walls and passionate. The guitar strings were still being strummed but without the breakneck vigor of previous works. The production still brought out the theoretical punk and folk stylings of the band but somewhere along the way, a lot of the feeling had been mixed out.

And now here we are at New Wave, an album who's very title seems to be a mission statement (see also Searching for a Former Clarity). Against Me! is further carving out their newer style, taking another step away from their youthful and rough beginning. The production here is notably cleaner than that of any of their previous releases, even Searching for a Former Clarity. You can tell that everything here is probably measured against a click track and each instrument is pretty meticulously recorded and mixed. This attention to detail helps bring out the instruments when Against Me! vary their typical tones like on "Borne on the FM Waves," which features a trebly, solo guitar that has a lot of variety and character throughout the different iterations of the slightly distorted rhythm guitar style. At other moments though, this increase of clarity doesn't do much other than dumb down the energy of the song. The octave guitar melodies on "Piss and Vinegar" don't cut or grind at all because the production is so clean, leaving the song a weaker shadow of its punk self. Overall, I'm left with the impression that the improved production only brings down Against Me!'s trademark sound instead of enabling it.

This dumbing down also emerges in other parts of New Wave. The drumming seems ridiculously midtempo for a band that could once rock the double-time gallop like nobody else. It produces really curiously dull moments on the album. The dance drums on "Stop" make it sound like a Franz Ferdinand B-side more than anything else. "Borne on the FM Waves" feels like a tepid rekindling of the slow jam flames initially ignited by the wonderous "Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious..." The drumming, while not bad, just leaves me with a lot of question marks and a whole lot of extra energy that I can only hope to release while rocking out to the 2:21 that is "Americans Abroad" (that is if I haven't already started to spin something of theirs that predates 2005).

And most importantly, some of the songs just aren't that good. Many of their songs are just boring. "Animal" makes me feel like I'm stuck in the turgid riff-rock of a band like Queens of the Stone Age. The unfortunately titled "Piss and Vinegar" feels like a MAD TV-esque parody of the band's previous true piss and vinegar brand of punk, its "whoas" and "ohs" falling short of the passionate cries found on Reinventing Axl Rose and As the Eternal Cowboy. However, there are some fairly clutch moments on this album as well. "Up in the Cuts" and "White People for Peace" both have awesome swinging choruses that are brimming with energy and spirit. "Thrash Unreal" is a really successful attempt at the slow burner that turns into a ballad midway through. The song is touching and nice for its whole 4:17, a feat I didn't expect at all. Even when the cheesy "bah" background vocals enter in the chorus, I still am taken away by the awesomeness of the song. Overall, though, other than those three, plus the fast "Americans Abroad" and the hopeful mood of "Borne on the FM Waves" I have trouble finding a song I really like on this album or at least one that can keep my attention for its duration.

Don't mix me up though for a crusty old mad punx fan. I'm also not some nostalgic guy who can't believe Against Me! totally sold out or something. This album is not offensive in either of those ways. Against Me! has deviated in such subtle, small baby steps that their style is mostly altered in terms of the x-factors, those tangible yet untouchable aspects that can render a whole album amazing, or leave it uninspired. In the case of New Wave, despite some gorgeous, well-written songs in the front half of the album, the album feels flat. Blame the production, the midtempo drumming, the refinement to the vocals, or the increased tightness of the band's playing, but I really think the problem is tougher to pigeonhole than that. I can't blame a band for having more money and time to put into production, or the experience that leads them to tighten up as a band, but somewhere along the way a significant amount of passion was lost in the ether. I don't know where it went. It appears briefly in tracks 2-4, but not much elsewhere. As a final note, this album, ranked against the hordes of music being produced, is still upper echelon, as it features a unique band producing good music, but when stacked up against the band's back catalogue, this release feels like a further dilution of Against Me!'s magic. Maybe I'm at fault for needing to compare New Wave to previous Against Me! albums, but at the end of the day that really does tarnish this album quite a bit.


Recommended Tracks: White People for Peace, Thrash Unreal, Up the Cuts, Borne on the FM Waves, Americans Abroad



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user ratings (605)
Chart.
3.3
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other reviews of this album
Tyler Munro EMERITUS (3.5)
Against Me!'s first major label release is a solid one that will sadly be pissed all over by insecur...


Comments:Add a Comment 
DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 9th 2007


3996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Here's the other side of the story.

cbmartinez
July 9th 2007


2525 Comments


I saw them play a couple songs from this album when I saw them a month back. "White People For Peace" is pretty clever I suppose, but it worth off. I don't really dig "Americans Abroad." I only have As The Eternal Cowboy and Reinventing Axl Rose, but compared to either of those albums, those songs really pale in comparison.

You should get As The Eternal Cowboy if you don't have it Nick. It's alot better than Reinventing IMO. I can send it to you if you want.

Two-Headed Boy
July 9th 2007


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, I'd probably rank somewhere inbetween the two opinions.

Fort23
July 9th 2007


2479 Comments


You back your points up well too.
Two reviews out before the thing is released. Pretty interesting. My review is like in between cokes and yours.This Message Edited On 07.09.07

iarescientists
July 9th 2007


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It sucks to try and critique this album, because people will just call you "Against Me! purists" but, honestly, I found this to be a huge disappointment. I'll try it a few more times, and buy it since Against Me! is one of my favorite bands, but I can't really see myself enjoying this that much.

So yeah, I basically agree 100% with this review.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 9th 2007


3996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

[quote=guy who sacktaps and cockslaps vijay singh]You should get As The Eternal Cowboy if you don't have it Nick. It's alot better than Reinventing IMO. I can send it to you if you want.[/quote]

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=3461

Intransit
July 9th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, but in the end, I really enjoyed this album. I can see why people like it or hate it though.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 9th 2007


3996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

like it or hate it


Haha I think the fact that the proper expression is "love it or hate it" says a lot about this album.

Intransit
July 9th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

well, I love it. Not many others do, which is why I substituted it. Oh well.

Fort23
July 9th 2007


2479 Comments


im to tired to write a review for this. Maybe tommorow.

Twin Human Highway Flares
July 9th 2007


36 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I changed my mind on this. It really is important to seperate it from the early stuff. It's a good record, for sure, but I have to think of it as a different band to fully appreciate it.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 10th 2007


3996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I mean in a perfect world we'd all appreciate every little thing as a unique snowflake and never have to compare it against any other standards to be able to find something of value in it, but get real. Against Me! as a band have produced vastly superior music. If they are capable of that, that much should be expected of them. I think they've fallen to something that has effected a lot of artists. Instead of replicating success they've made some changes, which ultimately are not as successful. They get props and cred for trying something different but they get a 2.5/5 for the actual album.

Joeeddstealschickens
July 10th 2007


110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I dunno aboutthis album, it starts off well but gets lazy and by the time they conclude with a re-recorded Americans Abroad (much better on the live album) and two shamefully sub-par songs i just dont care any more. The first 4 tracks are great (especially Thrash Unreal), but it tails off a bit after that. Bourne On The FM Waves is quite good though. I love Against Me!, but as the reviewer said, they have produced far far better music. The lyrics are generic and uninspired (maybe apart from Americans Abroad) and the music is by-the-numbers. However it is still miles better than the other generic rock groups around (even at their worst, they're better than most!). Maybe theyve got lazy, or maybe this is what it takes to make the band their job but this renders the lyrical aspect of their last album completely irrelevant - despite their lamentations about everyone sounding the same etc etc, this is completely generic rock music (albeit at its best). Fair enough if they want to move on musically, but that dont mean they will get any better. As a side note, Stop and Piss And Vinegar are fucking awful songs.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 11th 2007


3996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

[quote=Joe]As a side note, Stop and Piss And Vinegar are ****ing awful songs.[/quote]

12345. I really don't know what the band was thinking on this.

Joeeddstealschickens
July 11th 2007


110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah agreed, though ive decided Thrash Unreal is one of their best ever tracks in my opinion hahaha. Other than that this is actually rubbish in places, something i could never say of previous AM! albums.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 3rd 2007


3996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Mtv.com declares this is the best punk album of the year.

http://www.punknews.org/article/24919

The year isn't even over yet!

Tyler
Emeritus
August 3rd 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

up the cuts more like up the punx

iliketoplaydrums10111
August 3rd 2007


128 Comments


I'm a huge Against Me fan, Crimes as Forgiven by and Reinventing are in my top 10 favorite albums probably but this record is not nearly as good. It isn't Against Me at all, I was severly disappointed in this album.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 12th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know I'm not a fan of Against Me! at all, but "Thrash Unreal" for real sounds like an Offspring song.

PhoenixRising
September 12th 2007


277 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

"Mtv.com declares this is the best punk album of the year.

http://www.punknews.org/article/24919"

How did I miss that post???

MTV; right on the money, as usual...
This Message Edited On 09.12.07



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