The Laura Jane Grace Albums Ranked

Tristan Ettleman
4 min readFeb 21, 2024

I was quite taken in by Against Me! when I was introduced to the punk band in high school. The act’s aggressive energy did not override a certain catchiness and inclination to some pop instincts, especially as the group aged (although I would not call Against Me! pop punk at all). In 2012, Laura Jane Grace, the frontperson of the band, publicly came out as a transgender woman. As a cis teen without much exposure to trans people in any aspect or walk of life, this was actually a formative experience for me in supporting that community, especially since Grace was an early high-profile example of such a transition in the punk space. In the years since, Against Me! has seemed to be less of a priority for her and maybe the other members, at least in regards to full album releases. Now in a hiatus, the group hasn’t put out a record since 2016 (but were touring before COVID hit). But Grace has not been inactive; in the absence of Against Me! work, she has developed a solo career. Quite a while before her run of three albums released in the just over five years since 2018, Grace had released a solo EP, HEART BURNS, in 2008 under her birth/deadname. Not included in this ranking is that and her other EP AT WAR WITH THE SILVERFISH (2021), although both releases are quite good. But those three full-fledged albums are great representations of how Grace has evolved her style since the Against Me! years.

#3 — STAY ALIVE (2020)

Favorite track: “SuperNatural Possession”

Although there has been a bit more of an acoustic, or maybe just “stripped down,” bent to Grace’s last two albums, that doesn’t define every track on them; case in point, STAY ALIVE and “SuperNatural Possession.” Driving with a pounding beat and grinding riffs, the song is complemented by the vocalist’s layered tracks and typifies the kind of music Grace has always made. That being said, some of the more downbeat tracks on STAY ALIVE leave less of a lasting impression. The record, also like all of Grace’s work, has a certain level of compelling angst. But within the body of the solo career so far, the instrumentation on STAY ALIVE, admittedly moving as a tight, sub-30-minute punky record, doesn’t latch on quite as well as the albums that sandwich its release.

#2 — HOLE IN MY HEAD (2024)

Favorite track: “Mercenary”

Even shorter than STAY ALIVE at 25 minutes long (the predecessor was 29), HOLE IN MY HEAD ingeniously blends the short punk songwriting structure with a bit more reined in version of the acoustics of the record just before it. Case in point is “Mercenary,” which in one sense is one of the album’s more “laid back” tracks, but Grace’s voice still rings out with some torturous implications and the drive of the bass and drumbeat anchor the rambling sound of the guitar. HOLE IN MY HEAD does lean into the humor of previous Grace releases, including with Against Me!, the best example of which is “I’m Not a Cop.” And tracks like that also have a decidedly more “punk” sound, even if, again, the album’s vibe as a whole isn’t as overwhelming as that might imply. HOLE IN MY HEAD is Grace’s latest record at the time of this writing and the impetus for this piece, and as a successor to the pretty good STAY ALIVE and the new threshold to whatever’s next for the artist, it’s an exciting portent for things to come.

#1 — BOUGHT TO ROT (2018)

Favorite track: “Reality Bites”

BOUGHT TO ROT was released under the name Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers, the makeup of which also included Against Me! drummer Atom Willard and that band’s engineer Marc Hudson. With a fuller production sound than the two subsequent records, BOUGHT TO ROT is able to better communicate the anger, energy, and unease that still brings the newer stuff into good territory. Jangling with a brighter sound here and there, as on the track “Reality Bites,” the record also covers a wider array of instincts and emotions. It serves as an interesting intersection of the artist’s Against Me! work and the evolution into what I somewhat jokingly call the “wiser” punk realm. At the time of this writing, BOUGHT TO ROT, as the debut album (of any full records bearing Grace’s name), still stands as her best.