Published Nov 07, 2018There's always been an anthemic quality to the way Laura Jane Grace sings about not giving a fuck. Whether it's been political protest or challenging preconceived notions of gender identity, Grace has managed to seize our attention, no matter the size of the stage (or medium, for that matter). So when she sings "Learn to trust yourself, no one else matters / Respect the source and always welcome failure," it's obvious this solo project isn't to be over-examined. Bought to Rot is an unapologetic outburst of Grace's mind. Once bottled and now overflowing, she means what she says, whether you like it or not.
What were once journal entries read between songs at Against Me! club shows are now songs about everything from lowering expectations, to the inability to climax. The humour-heavy "I Hate Chicago" is a resentment-fuelled middle finger to her adopted home city in Illinois, calling out at the Blackhawks and Wilco (among a handful of other figureheads).
There are also no shortage of compelling one liners either. Take "Manic Depression," for example, as she begs "Even if it's terrifying, shake the, smack the shit out of me!" But susceptible to love's trappings, she strips away the tough punk exterior on "The Hotel Song," when she belts "I sleep in my jeans and I die in my sleep... I'll be gone in the morning."
The Devouring Mothers (comprised of Against Me! drummer Atom Willard, and Marc Jacob Hudson), help propel the album in a number of musical directions. "Acid Test Song" is dancier festival punk approach, while "China Beach," and "Valeria Golino" are aggressive garage punk takes. Guitars seem as if they could derail at any moment, as Grace's vocals set the refrains ablaze. "Screamy Dreamy" transitions from lulling melodies to the album's most memorable climax. Placed alongside the Petty-esque "Apocalypse Now (& Later)," and the country-tinged "The Apology Song," Bought to Rot is Grace's most genre-explorative statement to date.
Teetering between organized and messy, the melodic and chaotic, Bought to Rot is what Grace considers her "Scorpio album." Presenting herself bare, she exposes unfiltered honesty through the kind plain-spokenness that's, nowadays, avoided by contemporaries of her stature. If you've got something to say, then just say it. This has always been the golden rule of punk rock that Laura Jane Grace faithfully obeys. Honestly, I hope that never changes. (Bloodshot)