Deck: In her EP “War with the Silverfish,” Laura Jane Grace delivers songs that encapsulate the emotions of living under a worldwide pandemic.
For the second year in a row, Laura Jane Grace has shocked her fans with a surprise music release. Her newest EP, “War With the Silverfish,” takes its name from the silverfish plaguing her Chicago apartment; her and the silverfish have been waging a war for the prize of her record collection. With logistical difficulties due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Grace’s band Against Me! has unfortunately had difficulties meeting to record their new record, so she took matters into her own hands to release new music, creating this EP in both her apartment and a studio in St. Louis.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Grace said that the inspiration for this album comes from a shared experience with her neighbors. During the Chicago snow storm earlier this year, she was completely iced-in to her apartment. A few days into the storm, her and her neighbors ventured outdoors to quite literally break the ice; she used a crowbar to smash the ice and scoop it down the alley. After being isolated for so long, this experience created a connectedness that Grace hadn’t been able to feel for some time.
“At War With the Silverfish” is a beautifully present EP that shows you that even the most mundane and monotonous activities can inspire something wonderful. I’m sure this is something everyone can relate to after the past year, sitting alone in your home, in the middle of a pandemic, things around you begin to take on different, particularly deeper meanings. This EP captures a moment in time, depicting how a moment of connectedness with another human being can be relied on in times of strife.
The EP starts out with “Three of Hearts.” The song consists of only Grace and her acoustic guitar, perhaps symbolizing how this EP was mostly created alone in her apartment. It’s a brutally honest song about love and all its shortcomings. Following up next is “Lola 13” 一 a beautiful love song about a love that never was. The song itself is about a “girl in the city that I dreamed of.” Grace melancholy sings about falling in love with a woman in her dream and the task of searching for her daily until she meets her again.
The next song is “Long Dark Night,” which seems to be largely inspired by the bonding experience with her neighbors. With the narrative in the song, it feels as if Grace is talking about her journey of living in Chicago. Following is “Electro-Static Sweep,” my personal favorite from the EP. The song opens with a jaunty lilting melody that is sure to become an earworm. Oddly enough, it sounds reminiscent of the band Mountain Goats with its lyrics of past youth and joy in friendship.
Up next is “Day Old Coffee,” a 90 second song perfectly capturing the moment in time of the pandemic. Kind of funny in a dark way, Grace sings about how sick she is of making coffee as a part of her morning routine. Perhaps the best titled song of the album comes next with “Smug Fuckface,” which is about being unable to remember all the “lasts” in a relationship, like the last kiss or the last smile. The most telling part of the song is in the last eight seconds, in which there is complete silence before the final song begins. In “Yesterday Pt. II,” Grace fondly recalls a last kiss that she does remember. The juxtaposition of the forgotten romance and the remembered romance is an interesting artistic choice.
Overall, the EP centers on the remembrance of the loss of love. Though none of the songs are completely coherent, they all speak volumes through their fragments. Perhaps the stream of consciousness-like songs are indicative of the unprecedented times that we are living in一where it’s easier to shut your mind off and live in the nostalgia of how things once were. While this isn’t my favorite Laura Jane Grace release, I think it’s the album that fans need to hear at this point in time.
“At War With the Silverfish” can now be streamed on all major streaming services, including Bandcamp.