At War With The Silverfish by Laura Jane Grace
In less time than it takes to sit through a sitcom, Laura Jane Grace delivers seven incisive and eclectic tunes on her new solo EP, At War With the Silverfish. It ends before you’re ready but stays with you long after its 15 minutes are up.
Musically, the record never stays in one place long, but Grace’s lyrical prowess ties it all together. “Not gonna win/but I’m in the game,” she sings on the opening tune “Three of Hearts,” probably capturing a lot of people’s mindsets at the moment. Things get a little lighter on “Lolo 13” and its description of a dream about love interests, real or imagined (“Are you flirtin’?/I’m still not certain”), who are lost forever in the bright light of morning. Insistent kick drum punches and 4-on-the-floor beats pulse throughout, pushing but not overtaking Grace’s lightly hypnotic strumming.
She detours into a bit of baroque pop with “Electro-Static Sweep.” Deft string arrangements provide some of the titular “sweep,” as does Grace, as she croons the verses and pours on a bit of melodrama for the chorus. Her simple acoustic strumming and the loose drumming keep the tune moored on a solid dirtfloor groove.
Laura Jane Grace performing in 2019 (photo by Kate Hoos)
“Day Old Coffee” is perfect powerpop. There are some thrilling Paul Weller vibes here and Grace’s lyrics are the stuff of pure punk brilliance—endearingly snotty, grimly funny, completely relatable, and totally devastating: “Day old coffee/microwave to boiling/pour it on my eyeballs/and boil my dumbshit brains out.” This song could last 10 minutes and never lose its impact, but just as you’re ready to scream the chorus at the top of your lungs one more time, the tune ends abruptly. That’s how you do it.
She returns to the simple acoustic-and-voice arrangement for “Smug FuckFace,” allowing the focus to rest squarely on her lyrics, which, again, seem to sum it all up in one poignant bummer of a couplet: “Hey, you, sitting there with your smug fuckface/Will anything ever be good again?”
Most tunes on At War With the Silverfish don’t adhere to a neat verse, chorus, verse structure. Some are just a few lines of brutally insightful lyrics atop simple and affecting music that either makes you stomp your feet or hang your head. It’s where many of us are at now: stealing joy where we can but also battered by the world. We get what Grace can give us right now, and it is a deceptively deep well.