Let me clear the air before I jump right into the review, I DO NOT CARE about the whole Laura Jane Grace news. I give her my full support to be a voice for a group of people who don’t seem to have one. The transgender community has been given a leader, and being the front(wo)man of a punk rock band takes guts. Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the sixth studio album released by the Florida punk-rock band, and the first since Laura’s public announcement of being a transgender.
How does it play into the music? For starters, it fuels the entire theme, which follows the overarching story of transgender woman. Some of the lyrics on this album are crushingly impacting. They last like a bullet to the brain, etched into the frontal lobe (or whatever part stores information) for future dwelling. The opening title track has a line that really captures the thoughts of somebody struggling with this situation. A way we can learn about Laura’s struggles is by listening to her experiences, and the lines of, “You want them to see you / Like they see any other girl,” blew me away. That would pass up as just another line for other songs, but the theme of ‘transgender struggles’ puts these simple phrases into powerful messages.
I personally didn’t enjoy many of Against Me!’s past albums, but this one holds up. It’s crisp, aggressive, and meaningful. At just under 30 minutes, it flows like a typical Against Me! album, except it’s their best released. “FuckMyLife666” sounds like an angsty, post-ironic tweet by a teenager, but it compels the message of giving up clearly. Plus it has a killer hook. Laura’s voice is better than ever, and the band has a whole new meaning to play.
These ten tracks flow like blips of transcendental emotions. Since picking up this album, I’ve played it about 12 times already, partially due to it’s length, but mostly due to it’s ineffectiveness to stick with me. That’s a lie. It did stick with me, and in fact I was drawn to play it over and over because it felt needed to be heard. I would describe this album as a soundtrack for many 16 year old finding themselves, but also many adults who grew up on the 90’s Offspring and Blink-182 kick. I only realized how heavy it was once I showed my buddy “True Trans Soul Rebel”. These tracks are heavy, so be prepared.
Against Me! did it. They’ve finally released something that pleased me. I almost passed up this album, because the past five albums didn’t do anything for me. I don’t know why this time it worked. Maybe it’s the emotion and power they put into this. Maybe I hate Jay Weingberg and was glad when he left. Maybe it’s that it’s kick ass and should be given a chance. Either way, Transgender Dysphoria Blues has the real punk rock sound that deserves to be played over and over in the car. And no, I’m not going to Pitchfork this review, it deserves a BNM.