The track ‘I Hate Chicago’, a “divorce song” cleverly masquerading as a tirade towards her hometown, provides a standout moment on Laura Jane Grace’s debut record with new punk group The Devouring Mothers. A spit-and-sawdust alt-rock belter, the song relies on the kind of misdirected anger that tends to gather in emotionally charged places.
Instead of hating Chicago itself, Laura Jane Grace actually hates the memories the city holds. And yet it’s easier to take aim at the city’s best known bands – Slint, Wilco, The Smashing Pumpkins – gentrification, and terrible drivers. “Fuck XRT and Fuck Lollapalooza,” she rages with tongue firmly in cheek, “You and all your self righteous hipster hoods can go to hell. I especially hate Bridgeport cause that’s where she lives / For every reason that she loves it, I can’t stand Chicago.”
On ‘Bought to Rot’ as a whole, the core of what Laura Jane Grace is saying is often buried beneath several layers; verging from the playfully sweary to the angsty and self-deprecating. Though her band Against Me! remains her main focus, you get the impression that The Devouring Mothers serves as an alternative, more freewheeling outlet; the frontwoman previously cited Tom Petty’s debut solo album ‘Full Moon Fever’ as a key influence on her sort-of-solo foray.
While ‘Bought to Rot’ might not possess the focused tenacity of Against Me!’s latest record, ‘Shape Shift With Me’, it’s a varied, meandering album that roams freely across multiple genres. Couple that with stingingly personal lyrics, and it’s a real insight into what Laura Jane Grace is all about: biting, surreal and occasionally absurd.