Admittedly, I was nervous when I heard that the new Against Me! record was a concept album about a transgender prostitute with themes of gender dysphoria. Being a fan of the band, I felt that this was their first album I would not relate to. I don’t know anything about the transgender community and I couldn’t see how I would understand someone going through these types of changes in life. Add to that a new producer, a new bass player, and a new drummer, and I felt that it was a recipe for disaster. Yet, after hearing “Fuckmylife666” and “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues” on the internet, I knew that this was an album I had to own. Buying Transgender Dysphoria Blues was one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues opens with the fantastic “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” a hard rocking song that immediately opens the eyes of people, like myself, who know little or nothing of what it is like to go through a change of life at that magnitude. The opening drum beats immediately suck the listener in, the blitzing guitar chords hook them, and once Laura Jane Grace starts singing, it is clear that this could be the best Against Me! song ever recorded. Grace sings about the pain of coming out transgender, the desire to just be accepted for who you are, and the pain of being judged everywhere you turn. I immediately realized that my ignorant thoughts of not being able to relate to this album were wrong. While I don’t know the pain of coming out transgender, I do know the pain of not being accepted for who you are and the pain of desire related to wanting to belong. Needless to say, “Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues” received several plays before I even made it to track number two.
The record takes off from there delivering fine music from start to finish. New drummer Atom Willard makes his presence known immediately, and Laura Jane Grace’s voice is in fine form throughout the album. And even though the band changed the entire rhythm section (drummer Jay Weinberg and bassist Andrew Seward left between albums), both new drummer Atom Willard and new bass guitarist Inge Johansson are able to keep exceptional time and create tight pockets for Grace and guitarist James Bowman to perform over. While these four bandmates have only been together a short time, the results sound as if they have performed with one another for their entire career.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues contains a lot of fast, powerful, hard rocking, punk songs that deliver just the right amount of emotion at exactly the right time. Songs like “Unconditional Love” and “Black Me Out” are bound to go down as Against Me! classics and will be fan favorites in no time. On this album, the band never strays from what they do best, which is making short, blitzkrieg, hard rock songs.
If you like your hard rock mixed with punk and thrash, in addition to an us against the world mentality, you will love Transgender Dysphoria Blues. While not the best Against Me! album ever recorded, it comes very close. If you’ve never listened to Against Me! before, this is a great album to discover the band.
- Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues
- True Trans Soul Rebel
- Unconditional Love
- Drinking With The Jocks
- Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ
- Dead Friend
- Two Coffins
- Paralytic States
- Black Me Out
Against Me! Is:
Laura Jane Grace – Vocals, Guitar
James Bowman – Guitar
Atom Willard – Drums
Inge Johansson – Bass
Reviewed by Ryo Vie