Against Me! is a band closely tied to their independent and underground roots, yet after the attention paid to 2003's As the Eternal Cowboy, they found themselves teetering on the edge of the mainstream spotlight -- and dealing with the possibility of signing with a major label. Perhaps reflecting this situation, Searching for a Former Clarity finds Against Me! issuing their most introspective album to date. In both subject matter and song composition, they expand upon elements of previous releases without being afraid to veer away from expectations -- the lively opener "Miami," after all, features a horn section. The band has always slightly defied genre classification, and this disc further proves they can run the stylistic gamut and barely miss a step -- from the weary rock-bottom mosey of "How Low" to the stylish, dancey -- though somewhat annoying chorus of -- "Unprotected Sex with Multiple Partners." Along with biting lyrics commenting on the current climate of both the political and punk scenes, this disc explores the band's softer and more intimate side further. For every sarcastic "we took the movement to the market...we totally sold out the scene" ("Mediocrity Gets You Pears"), there's the acoustic, content stirrings of "Joy," and the soothing, somber drumbeats of the AIDS-oriented title track. Bush-era frustrations fuel energetic songs like the guitar-driven, tongue-in-cheek tune titled "From Her Lips to God's Ears," whose taunting chorus asserts "Condoleeza, what are we gonna do now?" On the whole, the album may be a bit more sober and resentful than previous efforts, but the passion, energy, and urgency Against Me! is known for is no less present. Instead, Searching for a Former Clarity is a more developed effort that is not only one of the best punk releases of 2005, but further establishes the band's growing importance within the punk scene.
AllMusic Review by Corey Apar