Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers
Bought to Rot
Bloodshot Records · November 9, 2018
Bought to Rot follows a multitude of narratives, about friendship, mental illness, romance, divorce, and much more.
Released on November 9th, Bought to Rot is the debut album by Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers, with Grace on guitar and vocals, Atom Willard (current drummer of Against Me!) on drums and Marc Hudson (long-time sound engineer and collaborator with Against Me!) on bass guitar. It brings a mix of styles together into what is intended to play like a mixtape, with a variety of topics. While it may not be as groundbreaking or revolutionary as some Against Me! albums (i.e. Transgender Dysphoria Blues), it is still a great listen and will take you on an emotional journey.
The range achieved on Bought to Rot ensures that each song on the album could find its way onto a variety of different playlists. Not bound by a precedent of 20 years of discography and expectations, this project has provided Grace with a way to express aspects of her identity, experience, and stylistic inclinations which may not fit neatly into the established political punk framework of Against Me!. This freedom is relayed throughout album, both in the disparate dynamics and subjects of each song, and in the honesty with which she talks, sings, and yells about her life.
Highlights on the album include ‘I Hate Chicago’ and ‘Manic Depression,’ though ‘Airplane Song’ proved to be the one which stuck in my head the most with its catchy chorus. ‘I Hate Chicago’ presents itself as an angered diatribe about everything Grace hates about Chicago which proves to be a metaphor for feelings left in the wake of divorce, as she admits half-way through, “You caught me, this is actually just another divorce song.”
In ‘Manic Depression,’ Grace discusses the manifestations of depression in her life, accompanied by a continuous bluesy guitar riff which mirrors the obsessive nature of thoughts she experiences as a result of depression. In a climate that stigmatizes mental illness, Laura Jane Grace breaks ground by openly discussing her day-to-day experiences with depression.
After listening to Bought to Rot I wanted to revisit some of my favorite Against Me! albums. When listening to masterpieces such as Transgender Dysphoria Blues, their 2014 release, and the first album written and recorded after Grace came out, I can’t help but feel that this album pales in comparison. However, each serves a different purpose and were created from two different points in Grace’s life.
While Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a rallying cry for trans and queer folk, dealing directly with the challenges of coming out, transitioning, and experiencing gender dysphoria, Bought to Rot follows a multitude of narratives, about friendship, mental illness, romance, divorce, and much more. For longtime Against Me! fans, fans of Laura Jane Grace herself, or for anyone who appreciates a solid alternative/rock/sort-of-punk (or at least with punk influences) album, Bought to Rot by Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers is definitely worth a listen.