Laura Jane Grace & The De­vour­ing Moth­ers – Bought to Rot Words Nick Levine

Gay Times Magazine - - REVIEW -

Laura Jane Grace is a bot­tom­less well of in­spi­ra­tion. She’s fronted right-on punk band Against Me! since 1997, but be­came a trail­blazer in 2012 when she came out as trans and be­gan singing about her gen­der iden­tity as com­pellingly as she sings about ev­ery­thing else – the band even named their 2014 al­bum Trans­gen­der Dys­pho­ria Blues. She’s also not some­one to be messed with: when Top­shop slapped Against Me!’s logo on a leather jacket in 2016 with­out ask­ing, Grace called them out and the fash­ion chain pulled the prod­uct. She’s com­pared this sort-of-solo al­bum, on which long­time col­lab­o­ra­tors Atom Wil­lard and Marc Hud­son be­come her back­ing band, to a mix­tape. Though ev­ery song is un­der­pinned by drums and gui­tar, Grace def­i­nitely shows her range here. Angsty open­ing track China Beach al­most sounds like Court­ney Love fronting The Clash, but The Friend­ship Song and The Air­plane Song are catchy jan­gle-rock­ers, and the alt-rock mis­sile Apoc­a­lypse Now (& Later) fea­tures an in­stant clas­sic hook about the af­firm­ing power of love: “[I’m] on top of the world, at the end of the world, with you”. A song called Manic De­pres­sion is suit­ably dirge-like given its dark sub­ject mat­ter; The Acid Test Song has a wel­come hint of Ala­nis Moris­sette about it.

Whether she’s singing about her com­mit­ment pho­bia on The Ho­tel Song or anx­i­ety on Manic De­pres­sion, Grace’s can­dour packs a punch. “No I don’t have many friends, I only ever seem to fuck over them,” she sings on The Friend­ship Song. When she roars “she couldn’t make me or­gasm” on Va­le­ria Galino, it’s even more brac­ing. But this al­bum also has a def­i­nite, playful sense of hu­mour. I Hate Chicago, which fea­tures the mem­o­rable line “learn to make a pizza, you fuck­ing jack-offs!”, isn’t ac­tu­ally a cri­tique of the USA’s third largest city; it’s re­ally about Grace vent­ing frus­tra­tion af­ter her 2016 divorce. “For ev­ery rea­son that she loves it, I can’t stand Chicago!” she dead­pans, ref­er­enc­ing her ex-wife. But Grace con­fronts a break-up – pre­sum­ably that one – head first on dev­as­tat­ing al­bum closer The Apol­ogy Song. “Some­times let­ting go is show­ing love,” she sings ten­derly. “Just be­cause I’m gone, doesn’t mean you weren’t enough.” In an era dom­i­nated by so­cial me­dia pos­tur­ing and fake news, this artist’s glo­ri­ous, messy truth is def­i­nitely some­thing to be cel­e­brated.

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