New Wave is a voracious, lyrical homage to selling out. While everyone seemed to understand the commercial motivation for Kanye West’s jump to the mainstream, Against Me’s punk fans do not have the same sympathy. However, New Wave is inspired by a growing paradox that singer Tom Gable touches on in his still-angry tracks: how to stay rebel when “punk” is the new establishment? His harsh voice, criticizing the big labels and his anti-establishment peers in “Up The Cuts,” sings, “All the punks still singing the same song/are you restless like me?”
All arguments for and against Gable’s appeal to the mainstream aside, this album succeeds in being approachable when punk sometimes feels inaccessible. From “Thrash Unreal,” a fiery tribute to a girl’s descent into drugs and alcohol, to “American Abroad,” a cultural criticism, Gable succeeds again in what Against Me has always been known for: creating an anthem for discontent.