Against Me- Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Any Against Me! album release is always going to generate a lot of anticipation, but this follow up to White Crosses has created considerable interest, even beyond their normal fan base. This is largely due to the extremely courageous step by frontwoman Laura Jane Gave to announce she was transgender. Whilst this album covers the issue of trans gender dysphoria, it also deals with important issues such as the loss of a young friend and pure self-discovery. It should also be noted, that the band’s sound has been through its own stages of change and development since they first emerged as a hard core punk band.
The opening track “Transgender Dysphoria” immediately shows how they have moved on to a more ‘commercial’ approach. In fact, the opening sounds like The Sweets’ ‘Ballroom Blitz’ to me! It then moves on to what is a brilliant punk rock track. It’s an explosive song, which delivers a really important and worthwhile message that is to be applauded. It sets the sound and the significance of the album right from the start. “Trans Soul Rebel” keeps the message and the brilliant sound going. This really is Against Me! at their most melodic and commercial. I am sure there will be some hardcore fans who will moan about the change, but when the songs are of this high a quality, it really is churlish to complain. Those older fans may be even more upset when they hear “Unconditional Love”, as it has an almost Green Day feel to it. This track really is a great punk pop song with a call to arms feel about it.
Fear not though, “Drinking with the Jocks” is a throw back to the more hard core sound of their earlier albums. It has a heavier sound with the lyrics being screamed out with a ferocious passion. “Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ” keeps the more intense sound going. It is a further sign that the band haven’t lost their roots and are certainly not against delivering a message in their songs.
Despite the tile, “Fuck My Life 666” sees the band back to a more accessible sound. It is still punk rock, but with a melody that sees them moving closer to an almost Gaslight Anthem feel. This comparison is also appropriate to “Dead Friend”, due to the technique of having a story telling style to it’s lyrical delivery. It’s a great melodic song, which could see Against Me! breaking in to the main stream. Whilst on “Two Coffins”, they tone things down with an acoustic song which is sparse and poignant.
They again perfectly mix punk ethic along with delivering a great melody on “Paralytic State”. This really allows the listener to hear and appreciate the lyrics in the tune. Final track, “Black Me Out” further emphasises that punk isn’t just about being loud and indecipherable, it is more about an approach and attitude to life, and Against Me have lost none of that.
This is an absolutely fantastic album and possibly the best of the year so far. It will be intriguing to see how the older fans will feel about it. Hopefully, it will see them respecting that the band have grown and developed. It is certainly capable of introducing the band to a whole new legion of fans. It really is an essential purchase for anyone who loves punk rock music delivered with energy and passion.