Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues

by Greg Spencer Rating:9 Release Date:2014-01-20

Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the first full length record from Against Me! following lead singer Laura Jane Grace's announcement of her intention to live as a women. The honesty and vigour with which this album is delivered is notable and there's a sense that one of the most promising punk rock bands in the US are back to their visceral best.

 

The main story of Laura Jane's gender dysphoria isn't something to be made light of and it isn't something to ignore. The album tackles Grace's story in a genuinely honest way but, more impressively, the band manage to not become so transfixed by the theme and issues dealt with here that the songs suffer.

 

On one level, the album is simply comprised of ten tip-top punk rock tracks. However, the frank and forthright lyrics show the impact of transgender dysphoria on Laura Jane Grace's life, and in consequence her music too.

 

The title track has lyrics like, “You want them to see you/ like they see any other girl/ They just see a faggot”. With expressions like these, you feel Grace's pain as much as this band's music can get across, and if a song makes you feel like this one does then it sets the rest of the album up perfectly. The following song, 'True Trans Soul Rebel', is actually bizarrely uplifting even though Grace talks of being alone. She really does cut quite a solitary figure, but the guitars and the brilliant vocals shine through on this track. If you're not shouting that chorus after a few plays then there's something very wrong.

 

Even though this album is obviously completely personal to Laura Jane Grace, it never feels pretentious; the music always delivers. Sure, there's a track here or there that doesn't really make the grade in comparison to the high quality of the majority of the album. For example, 'Osama bin Laden as the Crucified Christ' doesn't really add a great deal to the overall feel of the record or a huge amount of uniqueness, but it doesn't matter because the rest of the material is so enthralling that any blemishes don't really affect the high quality of the record.

 

It really is a whirlwind of an album. Ending on the slower-paced yet extremely aggressive 'Black Me Out', there's a sense that Against Me! are back to their very best.          

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