Against Me!: White Crosses
Tom Gabel ends his latest album in defiance of some inevitably disappointed Against Me! fans: “Don’t let them tell you who you are.” An appropriate statement as he closes the poppy punk rock album, White Crosses, that deems pre-New Wave Against Me! dead to the punk world. Indeed, Against Me! has sold out to the mainstream rock producers in flaccid hooks and sing-along choruses, but in doing so the Green Day/Smiths-inspired anti-jingoistic rockers have matured into a widely enjoyable talent.
Take “Ache With Me.” Oh yeah: blues progression, 50s feel, acoustic guitar, mosh-pit ending slow-dance song. But in slowing the album down to explore the contemplative and perhaps prettier side of Against Me!, they showcase their ability to redefine their punk-rock ballads for a wider audience. Without falling flat like more current Green Day, “Ache With Me” succeeds.
In keeping with their political inspirations, “White Crosses” and “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” address abortion and rebellion in a similar fashion to pre-New Wave Against Me!: chirped imagery-laden storytelling. Folky—yes—but enjoyable.
Is the whole album fantastic then? The middle section slows a bit much and admittedly White Crosses brings little novelty to the band’s discography, but with “Rapid Decompression” to liven the album up in 1:45, and the hands-down best song on White Crosses to close (“Bamboo Bones”), this is a solid fifth album from newly reformed staple of punk-rock, Against Me!
Recommended Tracks: Bamboo Bones, White Crosses