A well intentioned and occasionally enjoyable but excruciatingly earnest record.
Chris White 2007
As their name suggests, Florida punks Against Me spend much of their time shouting with angry paranoia about anything and everything. Leader Tom Gabel began his career as a teenage acoustic protest singer in the clubs and bars of his native state, but there’s precious little trace of the likes of Joan Baez and Phil Ochs on New Wave.
Since 2002’s acclaimed debut Reinventing Axl Rose, Against Me have slowly but surely fazed out their folk and country influences to become a straightforward, no-frills punk-rock band, and this Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins)-produced fourth album is a taut, frenetic set of hard-riffing songs that crackle with energy and indignation. Unfortunately, New Wave is also blighted by some of the most hilariously overblown adolescent philosopher lyrics since the last Manic Street Preachers album limped out of Wales.
Gabel and his band-mates come flying out of the traps with gusto on the robust if pompous call to arms of the title track – ‘We can be the bands we want to hear, we can define our generation’ – and the menacing, Clash-like “Up The Cuts”, before plummeting to an early nadir with the ponderous political pontificating of “White People For Peace”. The quality goes up a notch again with “Borne On The FM Waves Of The Heart” , which overcomes a ghastly title to unfold into serviceable duet with Tegan Quin of Canadian folk-rock duo Tegan and Sara. But the respite is short-lived, as “Animal” achieves the astonishing feat of being even more unsubtle than the Def Leppard hit of the same name. Finally, we see a glimpse of what might have been on “The Ocean”, a brooding, slow-burning epic that overcomes the by now inevitable forays into asinine wordplay to deliver a genuinely evocative climax to this well intentioned and occasionally enjoyable but excruciatingly earnest record.