Against Me! - I Was a Teenage Anarchist (Cover Artwork)

Against Me!

I Was a Teenage Anarchist (2010)


Against Me! used to be one of those rare bands with the ability to unify people. It didn't matter whether you were a fan of folk rock, pop-punk or straight-up D-beat hardcore--there was something about the Florida four-piece that could cross the boundaries of genre. Perhaps it was the pure heart and soul of the music; perhaps it was uniqueness of the sound; perhaps it was both. The songs were powerful and their delivery potent, but those days are now long gone. Against Me!, with the I Was A Teenage Anarchist EP, are still as honest and sincere as ever, but they no longer unify--rather, they polarize. Once a band that sung about being content living off dumpsters and selling blood to pay rent, they now seek mainstream approval and stadium rock superstardom. A major paradigm shift has taken place.

Does this bode well for the music? The answer is both yes and no. Like the songs on New Wave, the four tracks on the Teenage Anarchist EP lack the sense of urgency that once characterized the sound of Against Me!, but where edge and rawness is lacking there is an abundance of exceptional melody.

The eponymous opener, "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" is essentially just a great power-pop song--full of hooks and dominated by a big chorus--that sees Gabel finally bite the bullet by publicly distancing himself from his own back catalogue. The rest of the EP, however, is less catchy and is certainly not as bold. "Rapid Decompression" and "Bitter Divisions" are mediocre, although "One by One" is outstanding and is strong enough to stand alone as a single--why it has been excluded from the standard track listing of forthcoming album White Crosses is bewildering.

There is no doubt that this EP marks the shape of things to come. Against Me! are no longer scruffy young Florida radicals--they are now aging, married career musicians with futures to think of and babies to care for. Their music was once explosive and pioneering but now it is predictable. I Was a Teenage Anarchist is essentially a safe bet played by four men looking for the winning hand--a reminder, as if we needed one, that the glory days can never last forever.