Few songs have resonated with this author in 2010 as much as “I Was A Teenage Anarchist”; Tom Gabel’s anthemic, razorfire ode to his own political awakening. His path led to his understanding that flying the anarchist flag was just as pointless as the politics so many fight against. It is a bold statement, and while my own anarchist beliefs stopped when I locked away my skateboard pants and chain wallet, there is something about “maintaining that fire” that almost anyone can hold in high regard.
The genesis of the song is about finding the spark that keeps your passion alight. In the case of Gabel, it is about discovering that changing the world did not necessarily mean one has to be tied down to conformity within an ideal or a movement.
And like much of White Crosses, the track is a polarizing anthem- big choruses and stadium-esque riffs much in contrast to Against Me!’s earlier material. Yet there is something enlightening about a punk kid’s discovery that they could break free from the constraints of mass movements while maintaining the same drive and fire that first ignited their interest. Butch Vig’s production means the album is sonically, the best thing they’ve ever done, and to some, the best written material too. “Suffocation” is an equally telling tale of modern life- done with simplicity and a catchy refrain. “Spanish Moss” and “Because of the Shame” are both poetic and accessible, and tracks like “Rapid Decompression” and “White Crosses” prove they haven’t quite forgotten about their musical lineage.
This isn’t Reinventing Axl Rose, and it isn’t quite as disjointed as New Wave. But it’s a great big album that is every bit as personal as The Eternal Cowboy with plenty to offer for anarchists, punks, and the guy who sold you the album at Hot Topic.