Album Review: Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers – Bought To Rot

On Born To Rot, Laura Jane Grace bares her soul to the listener and delivers a record you’ll still want to listen to in thirty years. 

Released via Bloodshot Records this Friday, Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers’ Born To Rot  is one of those albums you’ll find yourself listenting to over and over again, finding new bits to love and obsess over. Lyrically and musically it’s an instant classic. It is classic rock’n’roll and we’re confident in saying it’ll make many Best Of 2018 lists (ours for sure!).

Across fourteen tracks Grace opens up to the listener about her fractured relationship with her adopted hometown of Chicago, true friendship, complicated romance, and reconciling everything in the end. It’s not the teenage anarchist thematic you might expect, but that’s what makes Bought To Rot so refreshing.

“Learn to trust yourself, no one else matters. Respect the source and always welcome failure” she proclaims on the opening lines of the record. Across Bought To Rot, Grace varies between talk-singing, punk-infused screams and soft vocals, always perfectly adjusting to the feel of the melody. The album wears its influences on its sleeve: Joe Strummer, Springsteen, The Clash and more.

Inspired in large part by Full Moon Fever, the first album Grace ever owned, Bought to Rot finds her at the same age Petty was when he created his solo debut masterpiece. In light of his recent passing, Grace was motivated to pay homage to one of her lifelong heroes. Leading the showcase is the album’s first single, Apocalypse Now (& Later), a touching track about witnessing the end of the world with the person you care about the most.

The grungy indie vibes of Amsterdam Hotel Room wrap well around not just the city’s feel but also the theme of being a stranger in a foreign city, you pretty much see the music video for this in true 00’s style: DIY filming in dodgy underground clubs in Amsterdam. Friendship Song’s upbeat bouncy pop melody is again one of those examples where the music fits the lyrics, rather than worrying about the flow of the record. “You and me would be a great team in an apocalypse scenario” she sings and if that isn’t the most important statement about a friendship then we don’t know what is.

Surrounded by heartland rock guitar riffs, Grace discusses her dislike for adopted hometown of Chicago in the aptly titled I Hate Chicago. “It feels like another dog-shit day in suck city, Jesus Christ, could you assholes at least learn how to drive.” she sings and everyone who ever hated their hometown can relate.

In The Acid Test Song the influences of Tom Petty shine through beautifully once again, lyrically and musically, as well as on the following, more mellow sounding The Hotel Song. Closing out Bought To Rot is The Apology Song, which carries a hint of country music, one of those songs you could imagine hearing in a rock bar in Nashville, however lyrically, it’s definitely more The Clash than George Strait. “My apologies for however I’ve yet to fuck up. One day you’ll learn from your mistakes, too.” is one of the last few lines of the record and brings full circle the punk attitude we know and love.

Grace recently told Rolling Stone she wanted the record to feel like a mixtape – and that’s what she’s achieved here. Bought To Rot is raw and personal, it has a bit of rockabilly, punk, classic rock and a dusting of indie. We haven’t stopped playing it, and we guarantee that you won’t either. 

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