For some artists the Covid lockdown period has been creatively fruitful, Laura Jane Grace is one of those artists. Her creativity is showcased wonderfully in the surprisingly well-kept secret release of an EP, ‘At War With The Silverfish’ which dropped at 4pm GMT today, 22nd September. The seven songs felt like long-time, long-lost friends on the first listen for me. Laura Jane describes them as “songs of late-night madness and loneliness, orphan songs that came wandering in looking to feed like insects”. I think I understand that too, there isn’t a theme musically and each tune could easily stand alone, but there might be a lyrical theme which to me evokes a positive anger and energy.
Opener “Three Of Hearts” is kind of dark lyrically but the music has an upbeat campfire acoustic vibe. After listening a few times “Lolo 13” is my current favourite in this collection, it has a hook that many songwriters would kill for. I particularly love the beautifully thought provoking couplet “Does the mirror have two sides? Are you waking up in your real life?”. I can imagine “Long Dark Night” igniting a venue if it was performed by a full band. But in the meantime it has a wonderfully intimate demo feel to it. “Electro Static Sweep” makes me think of the Velvet Underground had they formed in the last few years. I also think that Laura Jane’s voice on this track evokes Russell Mael and I would love to hear Sparks cover this tune. “Day Old Coffee” rocks like a bastard and is venomous in its attack, how full on was Laura Jane feeling when she penned the lyrics, notably “Day old coffee microwaved to boiling. Pour it on my eyeballs and boil my dumb shit brains out”. Are there many songs with a better title than “Smug Fuck Face”? I think not. I am sure this is about a soured relationship and trying to work out how it might be fixed, stressing very much the ‘might’! A broken relationship also seems to be the subject of “Yesterdays Pt. II” which closes this fabulous collection of tracks. I have been singing it in my had since the last note faded.
This is a stunningly good EP on which Laura Jane lays out her emotions with some, at times, brutally honest writing. The songs are often poignant and have great emotional depth. She covers self doubt, mental anguish and the road to redemption. This record stands up well alongside her best work with Against Me! and the Devouring Mothers. Laura Jane says of the release “I’ve learned that if you share your experience with good intentions that the universe will always surprise you with abundant return” and “Every song is an act of faith; you don’t necessarily know why you’re singing it other than you know you’ve got to sing it.” The EP was Half recorded at Grace’s TinyQuietStudio in Chicago and half recorded at Electric Eel in St. Louis, and mixed by her Devouring Mothers bandmate Marc Hudson. It feels like one of the best post Covid releases so far and you need it in your life. If you are not a Laura Jane Grace fan, you will be after listening to this! Click here for Laura Jane’s Spotify page.
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