By all accounts, this was supposed to be the year when Against Me recorded a new album. However, this was supposed to be the year for a lot of things before the pandemic hit. What occurred instead was the band’s lead singer and principle songwriter Laura Jane Grace recording a new solo album, Stay Alive. While the album is good and it rolls along at a pretty quick pace, it’s also not anything that you can really sink your teeth into.
For starters, the album was engineered and put down by legendary producer Steve Albini. Utilizing his raw production style, the album comes across in a very organic way. The songs are in the moment and feel like there weren’t a lot of takes. While the bulk of the songs are raw, they also don’t sound very fleshed out. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you want here. In fourteen songs only one cracks the three minute mark. Again, good or bad depending on what you want.
Of those fourteen there are shining moments on tracks like “Shelter In Place” with a synth drive accompanying Grace’s powerful voice. The song feels very now and may not be as memorable decades later. “Why Kant I Be You?” has the sound that comes across like it’s being sung to another that we will never meet. The best of the album comes on “Blood & Thunder” because it offers a side to Grace that we’ve never heard. Tender and taken away from the aggression, the track has a nice demeanor while hitting hard in a way you don’t expect. The whole album works, but most of it isn’t memorable in the end. By going raw and in the moment, the songs come and go and you’re left with a release with nothing to hold on to.
Stay Alive is available to purchase in various formats and bundles directly from Polyvinyl Records. It can also be purchased in all digital outlets or streamed on all streaming sites.
Image Credits: Photo by Alexa Viscius.