Against Me: Transgender Dysphoria Blues

If any of you have been fans of Against Me before, then you should all know the story of their lead singer, Laura Jane Grace. For those of you that don’t know, the title of this new album should tell you everything that you need to know. If not, do your homework.

Against Me have always sang about their confusions and frustrations of the music business, punk rock ethos, sexual orientation, etc. and have never stopped being a brutally honest band. This album definitely is within the same vein of what this band have done in the past musically, but I think lyrically, we’re seeing a shift back to some of the older Against Me records. This is also the record that Grace needed to make. This is the first record that has been released since Grace came out as transgender and this album is used to further come to grips with this new life. As a result, we have a record that is raw, independent, and honest in a very confused way in which Against Me are further trying to figure out their place in the world.

The first two songs “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” and “True Trans Soul Rebel,” are Grace’s way of confronting sexual identity and then figuring out what the next step in life is. “Drinking with the Jock” also harks back to the days of school where one tries so desperately to fit in and be considered part of the “in crowd.” Some may see it a little sophomoric to still be singing about that, but to me it seems only natural to go back to these old themes since the first couple of songs reflect on that. I think putting those songs on some of the older records might not work as well, but the message is very clear on this record.

I’ve always just been a casual friend of Against Me, but I think this band have really struck gold here. It’s one of their more honest records that I’ve heard and I also thought every song was an anthem in its own way and as soon as I finished listening to the album for the first time, I wanted to listen to it again. It attacks the social issues of being a transgender from all angles as well as using other themes to confront how people crave acceptance, despite being confused internally. It’s a very personal record, but I also think the songs themselves are strong enough that even if the album doesn’t draw any parallels with you lyrically, you can still appreciate the consistently strong songwriting and will most likely really enjoy this album.

Luke Helker

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