Many would question how it could be possible for a band to move in a new direction while, at the same time, finding a way to re-embrace their roots. Against Me! has an answer for that question in the form of their latest effort, White Crosses. Sonically, the album can be seen as Against Me! taking another step away from the “screaming folk-punk” sound that they brought when they arrived on the music scene over 10 years ago. On the other hand, the record also feels like a step back towards the band’s roots from a thematic perspective, as the lyrics have that undercurrent of scathing, righteous anger that was largely absent from the band’s previous album, New Wave.
The move towards a more pop-punk, straight-ahead rock sound will likely alienate some of the band’s more close-minded fans, despite the fact that Against Me! has a serious talent for writing songs in that type of jangly, fat power-chord style. However, those same fans will be missing out on the “give ’em hell” anarchistic folk-punk spirit embodied in the lyrics of songs that rally against anti-abortionists (“White Crosses”), frivolous war (“High Pressure Low”), bad relationships (“We’re Breaking Up”), and even the anarchy movement itself (“I Was A Teenage Anarchist”). That’s not to say the entire album is an angry diatribe, though. The band also shows a more tender side on a couple of tracks, like the acoustic-driven “Ache With Me.” That song in particular shows Tom Gabel’s maturation as a songwriter, containing some brilliant lyrical couplets (“You may not find all that you’re after/In the end, I hope it doesn’t matter,” for example).
The bottom line: Against Me! has crafted a great album with White Crosses. The band pulls off the combination of catchy riffs and anarcho-punk attitude so wonderfully that it feels like they’ve been doing it for years. In fact, the band sounds so tight and comfortable on the record that it would not surprise if they continued to write songs in that style for years to come.
For more information on Against Me! check out their official website and get White Crosses now on !