Reviews Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Against Me!

Transgender Dysphoria Blues

It's been a long time coming, but Against Me! have finally released their sixth album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It packs a hit harder than previous records. It's loud. It's powerful. It's full on rock 'n' roll! It took awhile for them to finally get the record to take off. Original recordings weren't cutting it which prompted the band to head back into the studio. Once a majority of the record was done, drummer Jay Weinberg, decided to leave the band. Long time bassist, Andrew Seward was gone shortly after. Thus, they ultimately brought in new drummer, Atom Willard, to track new drums while Laura Jane Grace filled in on bass for most of the album. "Fat" Mike of NOFX also joined in to lay down a couple bass tracks. After the long process, it's finally done and out for everyone to enjoy!

Against Me! ring in the new album in true Against Me! style with "Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues." Willard opens the album with a drum beat that harks back to "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong" Grace's vocals have a smoother bellow this time around, but she doesn't hesitate to add some gruff from time to time. Up next is the electric version of the previously released, "True Trans Soul Rebel." I'm a tad indifferent towards it because the acoustic version is such a beautiful recording. There's such a despairing isolation to the song that doesn't shake you on the album like it does on the EP. 

"Fat" Mike makes his first guest appearance on "Unconditional Love." If you were hoping for a bar romp of a song on this album, this is it. Next up is "Drinking With the Jocks." A straight-forward rock song full of forceful yells and headbang-worthy riffs. Laura doesn't hide behind prudence on this one. The lyrics are direct but almost to the point of being cringe-worthy. With a song of its nature, I think it's warranted, but it's the low point of the record for me. "Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ," is the heaviest song on the record musically and one of the heavier tracks on imagery. Willard's hard hitting drumming seals the deal on him being a welcome replacement for the band. It's a fresh energy. 

The second half of the record has a shift in tone and trudges on with more elegance and harmony beginning with, "FUCKMYLIFE666." Another one of the songs found on the previously released True Trans EP. Unlike "True Trans Soul Rebel," the electric output fairs better than its acoustic counterpart. The only downside is it's "Fat" Mike's second appearance, but you can't really hear him. Regardless, it's Grace's show and this is one of her poppier moments that's incredibly catchy and beautiful. Against Me! keep up the pop-punk tunes with Grace's eulogy to her friend, "Dead Friend." Bowman's voice hasn't been as present as usual on the record, but his backing harmonies on the chorus are some of my favorite on the album. The deathly theme follows through into "Two Coffins." It's a somber folk track that Grace wrote for her daughter that acknowledges ones mortality. 

As we reach closer to the end of the record, we come to "Paralytic States" which is my personal favorite song on the record. It's the perfect progression from White Crosses and features some of the strongest lyrics on the record. Appropriately placed at the end of the album is, "Black Me Out." Basically, if you haven't been listening and trying to understand to what's been going on during this record and Laura-Jane's life, then this is the big "fuck you." It's the perfect way to end the album. 

Transgender Dysphoria Blues is the best album Against Me! have done in years. It's anger, alienation, fear, and grimness all rolled into one with songs ranging from catchy, to solemn, to fierce. Laura Jane Grace took the reins as producer and did a great job. Atom Willard makes his debut as their new drummer and doesn't disappoint. It's a great record that is already an easy contender for "album of the year." 

8.8 / 10Aaron H
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8.8 / 10

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