Liam Garrett reviews the latest album by Against Me
Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the first release from Florida punk stalwarts Against Me since singer Tom Gabel began to live as Laura Jane Grace. The frontwoman has received huge support from fans following her decision to come out as transgender in 2012, and it seems to have given her songwriting a new inspiration. “You want them to notice” proclaims Grace on the shuffling title track, sounding in excellent voice. Lyrically the album deals honestly and openly with themes of alienation and identity issues. Musically it’s aggressive and triumphant, and only rarely does it sound angry.
The band are revitalized following their last album White Crosses, which was overproduced and restrained in places. Highlight tracks such as True Trans Soul Rebel and Unconditional Love embrace pop sensibilities but are still raw enough to recall their punk roots. In particular Drinking With The Jocks is a violent rocker driven by heavy guitar riffs and a pounding rhythm section. The same can be said of lead single FuckMyLife666, but the song arguably sounded more powerful as an acoustic piece as debuted last year. The only moment of rest comes with Two Coffins. The slow and haunting song segues perfectly into Paralytic States and Black Me Out, which perfectly mix the melodic with the aggressive for a heartfelt climax. The album feels more forgettable in the middle, but its short tracks leave little time to feel disappointed.
Clocking at less than 30 minutes, and with little experimentation evident, it’s admittedly hard to believe that Transgender Dysophoria Blues has been nearly three years in the making. But it’s strength lies in the fact that it’s punchy, forthright and catchy. It is also brutally honest and the band sounds tight and powerful. A return to form and the beginning of an exciting new stage for Against Me.