Review Summary: The soundtrack to twenty thousand-ish hearts breaking
Can someone tell me when the fu
ck Tom Gabel sold out? I mean seriously, asking 10 Against Me! fans would net you ten totally different answers. Was it New Wave
, with its power-pop? Was it Searching for a Former Clarity
, with its lack of ANRCHOPUNX? Was it the chic choice of Re-Inventing Axl Rose
, where, god forbid, they made their first real record with…electric guitars!? The obvious answer is of course as soon as Tom Gabel stopped recording using his boom box, but I suppose you could also say White Crosses
is a pretty big milestone in the constant selling out by the band.
was arguably better received than its predecessor due to the fact that, beyond all the “MAINSTREAM” melodies, the production still let Against Me!’s trademark passion shine through. White Crosses
, on the other hand, features production as slick as a member of The Bravery’s hair (and sounds a lot like the 80s sound that band tries to capture, coincidentally). If you liked Against Me! to any extent pre-2005, you’re going to hate this, and if you don’t, you’re probably lying to yourself. This is a totally different band; no more cries of “I WAS BURNING THAT FU
ER AND STREAMING MY BLACK FLAG HIGH”, instead replaced by Tom pondering the existence of beautiful blond girls living in the same town as him.
So, a punk album White Crosses
is not. It share far more in common with any number of Bruce Springsteen albums than it does anything one would normally associate with Against Me!, and thank god, because that shi
t was getting boring. The album is packed full of glossy guitar riffs, silly sing a long lyrics, and bombastic arena-rock choruses. It’s not a unique sound in the slightest, but Tom and co take the energy and charisma that drove their old crappy punk songs and apply them in great fashion to their newer, perhaps slightly more exhausted sound.
The lyrical content is focused entirely on things not related to being a trend hopping political activist (except for one song dedicated entirely to saying how much of an idiot Tom was 9 years ago). Some of the songs explore in surprising depth death and loss, and the lyrical highlight of the album has to go to “ I watched your mother bury you today, with tears in her eyes, it wasn't her words that shook me, but the resemblance you shared”. While sometimes it can veer on the wrong side of preachy and cheesy, Gabel’s charisma generally forces you into digging otherwise overwrought lyrics like “But before you point your finger, before you cast your stones, take a look at yourself/How can you expect from someone what you won't do yourself?”
So, White Crosses
is a radio rock album. An incredibly tight, well performed one with all the magnetism and charm of Against Me!’s past albums, but it is still just a rock album. While this caps what the band accomplishes, its still the most straightforwardly enjoyable thing they’ve ever done, and those with a simple want for a rock and roll album will not be disappointed. However, lets make one more clear cut distinction: IF YOU HAVE BEEN TO A SHOW IN GAINESVILLE BEFORE 2005, YOU ARE GOING TO FU
CKING HATE THIS.