At first listen, New Wave is certainly not the best Against Me! has put out so far, but given a chance it definitely can stand up with their other albums.
The problem for most fans is that the band brings with it a nearly tangible energy, most easily felt at one of their live shows. If you haven't had the opportunity to see this band play live, I highly recommend it. There is something absolutely electric at their concerts, a feeling that remains consistent at each of the dozen or so shows I've been to personally.
A large part of that feeling is just the raw power and energy that they bring to the stage, and when that hits the crowd it seems to travel back and forth between the fans and the band, constantly feeding off each other.
Unfortunately, New Wave lacks some of that raw power that fans have come to expect. The effect is much the same as it is for anyone who is lucky enough to have heard the songs from "The Stolen Demo" and then heard versions of those songs on "Still Searching for a Former Clarity", the substance is there, but in the back of your mind you know its just missing something. Any of you who were left wanting from "Clarity" should desperately try to find "The Stolen Demo", without it Clarity is half the album it should have been.
Additionally, some may feel that New Wave is a little overproduced and clean. In my opinion the best mix of studio with Against Me!'s natural energy was on "As the Eternal Cowboy", although I'm sure thats debatable among fans.
In any case, New Wave still has a lot to it, music and lyrics are still good. I don't know anyone who listens to Against Me! that doesn't rank them in their top 3 of all time favorites, but fans should not be afraid for their favorite band to sound a little different and not just put out the same recycled stuff over and over again.
New Wave is a step up from Former Clarity (although that may only be because the Stolen Demo songs/versions of songs didn't make it onto the album), and in any case it is still a good album and well worth your hard earned American dollars.
Don't be confused by the fact that they will always be better live, that's a good thing. Just buy it and enjoy it, consider it a good summer album with a few songs you will enjoy hearing at their next show.