Review: Against Me – Transgendered Dysphoria Blues

Photo via NPR

I have been waiting for this for a while. It is novel in the sense of it showcasing vocalist Laura Jane Grace’s new identity, her first album released since she became a woman, and exciting in the sense of it being another release from a legendary punk band. 

Against Me!’s music has always possessed an exceptional staying power for me. The lyrics are always spot on, the high-energy harmonies are perfect and the guitars and drums rip through my consciousness like a bullet.

Here, the energy doesn’t wane – and I feel even a renewed intensity given the subject matter. The energy in Grace’s voice seems to come now from an even more intensely personal place:

“They don’t see a girl / they just see a faggot.”

This music evokes compassion and full-throated goodbye to the many hidden struggles of transgendered identity. Thank goodness for her, Laura Jean Grace has come out of hiding. Thank goodness for us, she’s still making incredibly powerful music.

The ridiculously catchy chord progression and chorus in “True Trans Soul Rebel” brings not just a desire to drive fast, fist-pump and shout along, but also brings a tear and a smile at the utter catharsis and redemption of her exclamations.

Listening to the songs and yearnings here feels almost voyeuristic to me, like reading someone’s diary, but we must remember that Laura Jane chose to share this with the world because she needs other people to listen to her story.

So listen to it, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable. But don’t listen out of pious liberal guilt. Listen because it’s fun and loud and energetic. Listen to it celebrating proudly that a tortured imprisoned soul finally found a way to live freely. And celebrate that some really damn good music came out of it.

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