Laura Jane Grace
Hole In My Head

Laura Jane Grace - Hole In My Head

Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace has never been afraid to push the envelope in her music and artistic growth. Hole In My Head gets its title from Grace taking it upon herself to tattoo the last remaining part of her body she had yet to ink up, and that was her head. The artwork showcases an explosion of colors and images from Grace’s scalp, and it’s fitting, since she paints with wide and vivid colors on her latest LP. The topics found on Hole In My Head range from her mental health, to the early days of her music career, all the way to coming to terms with her gender identity. Grace’s ability to tell vivid stories over an acoustic (or electric) guitar, and remain captivating, is a remarkable talent not to be taken lightly in a songwriter. It’s a gift that keeps on giving to her fans both old and new, and Hole In My Head ends up being Grace’s finest work since the instant classic of Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

The album opens up with the fast-paced title track as Grace laments, “Do you wanna screw? / Baby, what’s the point? / I keep making my bed / And it’s become a real chore.” Grace invites the listener into her headspace as she opens up her soul to whomever is ready to listen. The 50’s rockabilly of “I’m Not A Cop” might just be my favorite song that Grace has written in her solo career, and I thoroughly enjoyed her last EP of At War With The Silverfish, in addition to her first take on solo work (Stay Alive). My favorite lyric on this electric track is, “I think I got this whole city wrong / Any redemption for a stupid old punk? / You can run from where you’re going, but not who you love.” I think the last line of that is a beautiful admission of the power of love and how we can fall head over heels into relationships. Sure, it’s always a risk, but it’s one that many of us take at one point or another because the reward far outweighs the pitfalls.

”Dysphoria Hoodie” was the first single to be released from the set, and it does a nice job of setting the table for the material that led Grace to these conclusions. The memorable refrain of, “When it says ADIDAS on my chest / All day long I dream of sex” is a clever play on words and highlights Grace’s remarkable talent as a poignant songwriter. “Birds Talk Too” rocks along like an 80’s pop song about falling in love, while “Punk Rock In Basements” brings Grace’s focus back to the early days of her punk rock roots.

The back half of the LP never loses its early momentum gained, with the largely acoustic-based storytelling on “Cuffing Season,” as Grace sings in a wakeful ponder of, “And if the world isn’t flat, may as well fucking be / What difference does it make to you me?” The catchy chorus continues down the path of pop-based chords to make for a “campfire moment” in the set of songs. “Tacos & Toast” is another song that relies on an acoustic guitar and Grace’s trademark vocal delivery to keep its charm. The closing lyrics of “If I could blow the moon out of the sky / I’d wipe that fucker clean out of the night” allows for brief moment of silence to reflect on everything Grace has poured into the listeners’ earholes.

The gritty bass line found on “Mercenary” is just great punk rock song structure in its purest form, while “Keep Your Wheels Straight” features some hand claps behind the acoustic guitar strums as Grace walks the line between songwriter and storyteller with trapeze-artist ease. The chorus of, “I’m keeping the faith / Everything will be okay / If I draw my curtains tight / And I sleep through the day / Keeping the faith / Everything will turn out great / If I can just keep my wheels steering straight,” recognizes the importance of carrying on through the darkest of times. “Hard Feelings” is a cocktail of the thoughts running through Grace’s mind as she sings melodically, “Oh, Mother Mother Mother / I’ve ruined my brain / On alcohol, weed, porn, and cocaine.” She takes it all in stride and never lets the heavier thoughts outweigh the glimmer of hopefulness in the end.

Album closer, “Give Up The Ghost” is a bit of a victory lap at this point on the record since it hits the right spots of vocal cadence and lyrical emphasis to make each note feel worthwhile and purposeful. Grace continues to carry the mantle of one of the most talented songwriters in the punk rock community and never lets go of the throat of the audience until the final guitar strum echoes off the speakers and all that’s left is silence.

Laura Jane Grace set out to create an album that explores everything from love and obsessions to vices and virtues, and she does so in a way that is utterly captivating and mesmerizing a the surface level. Beyond that, the lyrical deep dives and repeat spins of Hole In My Head do exactly what you’d want them to do on a great album: keep you coming back for more.