Words About Music
Against Me! “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”
A strange thing happened after folk-punk group Against Me! released their fifth album “White Crosses” in 2010. They toured relentlessly in support of the record, but it all changed in 2012 for the better. Lead vocalist Tom Gabel came out as a transgendered “woman trapped in a man’s body” through a Rolling Stone interview. The support was overwhelming, and this allowed for Tom, whose name is now Laura Jane Grace, to fully realize her childhood dreams of being a woman. With the changes to her body came changes to the band’s lineup and the lyrical content. Laura used her experiences up to this point to inspire her band’s highly anticipated new record “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.” In fact, this could very well be one of the most highly anticipated punk records in recent memory considering the overall lack of transgendered artists in the music world.
Overall, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is Against Me! at their most inspired, their most energized. The songs are catchy and mostly sexually charged as opposed to their generally politically charged songs. This record is incredibly triumphant with one of the most emotional vocal performances I’ve heard in a while. Laura’s sexuality may have changed since the release of their last album, but her vocal energy has only improved.
This album is a lot of things, but it’s not very cryptic. With song titles like “True Trans Soul Rebel” and “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” it’s obvious that a great deal of this album deals with Laura’s personal struggles, both autobiographically and metaphorically. A particularly interesting nuance of the record, though, is that Laura chose to sing some of the more personal songs in second person. For example in the opening eponymous track she sings “You want them to see you like they see any other girl / They just see a faggot.” Seriously, I can’t stress enough how incredible she sounds on these songs. I’ve not heard an energy like this from the group in a long time. It’s an especially welcome energy after songs like the notably less pumped “I Was a Teenage Anarchist.”
My one true beef with this album is that I haven’t figured out what all the lyrics are, but the ones I have figured out are masterful, which isn’t really a surprise. There’s just such a wide range of tones and ideas found in the lyrics on these ten songs that it’s amazing they fit it all into under a half hour. One of the more hilarious songs on here is “Drinking with the Jocks,” in which Laura kind of pokes fun at how she’s had to pretend to be a manly man by waving her cock in her hand and talking about pussies and filling them up with cum. “All my life!” she screams during the chorus.
“Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is also extremely catchy. Ever since I started listening to this album I’ve been getting about half the tracks stuck in my head simultaneously. It’s a great album with great hooks, great lyrics, great message, great everything. I had pretty high expectations for this album, but I was also a bit worried it would be a bit gimmicky. Fortunately, in Against Me! fashion, the band was able to take serious topics including Laura’s personal struggle with gender dysphoria and put them into catchy, slightly humorous songs with an edge. You’re not gonna find a song titled “Osama bin Laden as the Crucified Christ” anywhere else, and it wouldn’t be nearly as inspiring anywhere else.
SCORE – 8.5
FAVORITE TRACKS – Transgender Dysphoria Blues, True Trans Soul Rebel, Unconditional Love, Drinking With the Jocks, Osama bin Laden as the Crucified Christ, FUCKMYLIFE666, Two Coffins, Black Me Out