It seems that since 2002's "Reinventing Axl Rose", Against Me! has become everyone's favourite band, and considering that album, they could very well deserve it. The band plays an original brand of folkish punk that'll get your toes tapping like crazy, and that really tickles the sing-a-long nerve each and every time a chorus is reached.
"Reinventing Axl Rose" got raving reviews everywhere, and it was also that disc that landed them a recording contract with Fat Wreck Chords. Possibly the hardest thing for a band to do is to follow up a success like that. Does Against Me! succeed where too many others have failed? No, to be completely honest, they don't. This isn't a very good album, and mostly because it seems rushed, and somewhat forced.
The first thing you notice is that it only has 11 songs, and it's done in 25 minutes and 10 seconds. That's the first clue that this isn't as worked through as it should be. Another clue is that, even though Against Me! has their very own style of uncomplicated sing-a-long punk rock, this seems a bit too uncomplicated. Many of the songs are based around just one chord progression with basically just one vocal melody over it. Although the band in most cases find ear-pleasing melodies and choruses, I feel that there's a little something missing. That something probably being effort and variety, and those things are (at least to me) pretty damn important. And adding an instrumental imtermission, only repeating a few chords, is solid evidence that they're not giving 110%...
On the plus side, this is still an Against Me!, and all the crucial elements are there - the aforementioned catchy choruses, the snotty, hoarse, screamed vocals, the rock'n'roll attitude and all that. And this is a nice break from Fat Wrecks otherwise pretty unoriginal punk (I love Fat Wreck, but they've never really gone out on a limb, have they?), as the band at least does their own thing, and they do it good.
The best songs on "As The Eternal Cowboy" are "Cliché Guevara", "You Look Like I Need a Drink" and "Slurring the Rhythms", probably the three fastest songs on the disc. Where the other songs are a bit slow, and therefor lack a little energy, these songs really pick the album up.
In conclusion, this is not going to make my list of Best Albums 2003, and if you're interested in getting into Against Me!, I suggest you get "Reinventing Axl Rose" (No Idea Records, 2002) and just enjoy. If you're already a fan of them, of course you should get this, but don't expect to get blown away. Unfortunately.