Shape Shift with Me is the seventh studio album by Against Me, first album since Transgender Dysphoria Blues.
By Jane Howkins.
Considering that last time Against Me produced a new album it was six years in the making (the band went through what you might call a busy period), the release of Shape Shift With Me – their seventh studio album – two years after their last seems pretty quick in the grand scheme of things. However, after spinning the new release a few times we found ourselves feeling pleasantly surprised with the results, and despite being an album you might have to listen to a few times to fully appreciate, it’s well worth taking the time to do so.
Against Me’s last album was called Transgender Dysphoria Blues, so called due to lead singer and guitarist Laura Jane Grace coming out as transgender in 2012. This was an extremely brave move, and whilst Grace did meet some hostility over it, most people responded well. Whereas Transgender Dysphoria Blues was a harsh and gritty look at some of the issues that a trans person faces when coming out, Shape Shift With Me is different in that it carries that over and looks at some of the issues faced within the everyday life of a trans person. It’s really interesting to see how Grace’s life has changed in the last couple of years, and the different perspective and vocal subjects at play here is something listeners will very much enjoy. Our favourite song at the moment is one called Haunting, Haunted, Haunts, which seems to be quite a personal song to Grace in terms of lyrical content, as well as being a fast-paced stomper of a song.
On this album, the lyrics are more about Grace’s everyday life, with a deep focus on her love life. Most of the time when you hear about similar issues in the media, the focus tends to be on people coming out as transgender, and whilst that is something important to talk about, it’s excellent to hear a different perspective and listen to songs about Grace’s life as a trans woman post coming out. As usual, the songs here are both catchy and inspiring, however one thing to note is that fans of the band’s early work might be put off. Ever since Searching For A Former Clarity, there has been a divide within Against Me’s fanbase over their increasing fame and popularity, with their music becoming ever more catchy over the years. This is not a bad thing in our opinion, as whilst the newer music may be a bit different to that of old, it’s still great, and bands do need to evolve to survive – with singles Crash and 333 being both hooky and meaningful.
One last point to make here is about the production of the album. Transgender Dysphoria Blues may have been an incredibly brave step for Grace to take, but it was dogged by bad production throughout. Shape Shift With Me thankfully bucks this trend, and sounds a lot better, which is something we were initially worried about before listening. Overall then, this is an excellent album full of challenging ideas, harsh riffs and catchy hooks, and well worth checking out.
Against Me’s album Shape Swift With Me will be released September 16, 2016.