After a sex change, a line up re-shuffle and a theft of more than $15,000 of guitars en route to a show, American rockers ‘Against Me!’ have been through quite possibly the most punk rock time of their lives . This journey has culminated in the release of their sixth album ‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’.
Despite the dramatic changes in circumstance surrounding the band their latest effort, which is the first released on their own label Total Treble Music, is stylistically similar to that of their previous releases. Produced by Butch Vig, who also took control of the bands major label debut ‘New Wave’, the new album is filled with the familiar guitar riffs and big choruses that made the band such an exciting prospect when they first burst on the scene back in 2001.
The album opens with the titles name sake, powerful lyrics and an emotional delivery are at the forefront of the track which is an on-going theme for this album. “You want them to notice, the ragged ends of your summer dress, you want them to see you, like they see any other girl”.
Every track benefits from the passion and edge of Laura Jane Grace’s astounding performance. Its song-writing that is possible only by an individual who has lived through all of the emotion and turmoil which are present in the lyrics and delivery. ‘Drinking with the Jocks’ is a frantic rock riot and ‘Dead Friend’ is a contagious chorus driven smash, both propelled to another level by the story-telling as told by Grace.
So musically there’s a lot to love here. But perhaps more important than that is the message that the album itself sends out. A punk rock singer has come out as trans and put out an album which is not only one of the bands strongest to date, but is also an open and honest account of what it is like to have gender dysphoria. It turns out music doesn’t care whether you’re a man or a woman.
Whilst its punk rock stylings may have been seen before, its overall message and delivery makes this a ground-breaking and essential listen.
Alex Jones – www.foryourreadingentertainment.com