Laura Jane Grace’s debut solo record comes after two decades worth of material from her band Against Me!, and is a collection of some of her most diverse and honest work to date.
An impressive fourteen tracks long, ‘Bought To Rot’ takes the listener through the mind of Grace, exploring platonic love (‘The Friendship Song’), the complexities of romance (the guttural ‘Valeria Golina’), and everything in between.
Grace’s signature hoarse vocals soar on the love song ‘Reality Bites’, where they are juxtaposed against the uncertainty of the merging of her lyrics “so real” and “surreal”. ‘The Acid Test Song’ and ‘I Hate Chicago’ exemplify Laura Jane Grace as a modern day punk icon; on the latter, she discusses her fractured relationship with her adopted home-city, from strangers not saying hello to self-righteous hipsters at music festivals. Grace may criticise a lot on ‘Bought To Rot’, but her charisma and intellect shine through making this a release where any listener can relate to the themes, despite how personal it all feels.
Musically the record explores the depth of punk rock and beyond too. ‘Born In Black’ is a beer-raising ballad ending on a huge guitar solo, and ‘Manic Depression’ sees a more bluesy, country side that toys with desert rock towards the end. Patti Smith is evoked on the folk punk number ‘The Airplane Song’, where Grace sings about being torn between two lovers.
Culminating in ‘The Apology Song’ where the album ties together, Grace has delivered a record that is as humorous as it is heartbreaking and as quirky as it is bitterly real.