AGAINST ME! - Searching for a Former Clarity

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"With this release, the evolution of the band has certainly continued. Each track is startlingly dense and J.Robbins has given the band an almost impenetrable wall of sound. Unlike the simple shout-along melodies that adorned previous albums, ...Clarity demands repeated listens far more than any previous album. That's not to say the band has abandoned their crowd-energizing anthems though; tracks like "From Her Lips To God's Ears" with its chant of "Condoleeza!" will certainly have their share of audience participation.

When I first heard a few tracks from the album, my immediate reaction was to compare the band to the Replacements, and I think the comparison still stands; like Westerberg's seminal band, the band seems to incorporate punk rock, country and folk, but with Clarity it seems the band has finally managed to fuse these elements seamlessly in a single track. Songs like "Violence" and "Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners" do this almost effortlessly (though I must confess that the latter disappoints a little with a somewhat annoying chorus, despite a great opening and confessional lyrics.)

With the exception of that track's chorus, however, the album is uniformly solid. Lyrically, the band is treading into more personal territory, with "Pretty Girls" and "How Low" addressing similar relationship territory to Cowboy's "Sink, Florida Sink." Internal turmoil and self-loathing are also well represented, with songs like "How Low" and the title track showing Tom at his most painfully confessional.

The political feelings of the band are represented, but the band takes a far more individualistic tone, focusing lyrics on the effects of politics on real people. A track like "Justin" eschews complex political diatribes, instead discussing the Iraq war as it pertains to the recruiting, death and media coverage of a single soldier. As well, the events that were documented in last year's DVD are also addressed with many allusions to the dirty politics of the music business, a situation into which the band has been thrust far too violently.

Against Me! has quickly gone from a great band with a small but devoted fanbase to a large one, almost despite the band's efforts to grow gradually. Listening to the record, I still find it hard to believe that this album was written by some guy I sat around drinking with; it's ambitious, fully realized and truly special. It's also a conflicted record; it's filled with internal ruminations, raw emotions and a distancing wall of sound, but it is nevertheless their most thoughtful and accomplished piece of songwriting and a record that grows more rewarding with each listen."     - Aubin Paul,


1 Miami

2 Mediocrity Gets You Pears (The Shaker)

3 Justin

4 Unprotected Sex With Multiple Partners

5 From Her Lips To God's Ears (The Energizer)

6 Violence

7 Pretty Girls (The Mover)

8 How Low

9 Joy

10 Holy Sh*t!

11 Even At Our Worst We're Still Better Than Most (The Roller)

12 Problems

13 Don't Lose Touch

14 Searching For A Former Clarity