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Against Me! 

New Wave (Sire)

Wednesday, Aug 15 2007
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It's not easy being a member of Against Me! Ever since the band moved up from basements to clubs with working PAs, literally every decision it has made has been scrutinized and criticized by punk purists. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for the group to pull the ultimate rebellion by signing to Sire Records and recording an album with Garbage's Butch Vig. And while New Wave certainly isn't Against Me!'s definitive release, it contains glimmers of brilliance that hint at something truly transcendent lurking beneath the distorted guitars and self-referential lyrics.

New Wave is most successful when Against Me! doesn't stray too far from its folk-inflected punk roots, as displayed on the title track or instantly infectious single "White People for Peace." Although the group is constantly compared to the Clash, it doesn't quite have the same ability to recontextualize its decidedly un-punk influences into something fresh and new, a fact best (or worst) demonstrated in the Franz Ferdinand-sounding "Stop!" For every misstep, though, there's a successful mini-experiment like "Thrash Unreal," which shows the band is as capable at writing a perfect pop song as it is at catalyzing circle pits.

"Are you restless like me?" frontman Tom Gabel asks over the cathartic chorus to "Up the Cuts." If the answer is yes, New Wave is a good place to start.

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Jonah Bayer

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