Against Me!
Transgender Dysphoria Blues


4.0
excellent

Review

by Green Baron USER (110 Reviews)
January 14th, 2014 | 25 replies | 1,776 views


Release Date: 01/21/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A renewed energy and passion for a band that truly needed it.

13 of 17 thought this review was well written

Ever since Laura Jane Grace announced that she would be taking measures to live as a woman, I've been patiently waiting to see what effect her gender transition would have on her as a musician. July's True Trans EP was a small dose of acoustic ditties that were marred mainly by a lack of energy and some questionable lyrics that occasionally sounded like Grace was boasting her change in gender. After New Wave and White Crosses, I seriously doubted that Against Me! could ever return to form again, and after the album title and cover were revealed, I feared that maybe this album would be too preachy and in-your-face. Luckily, I needed not worried, as Transgender Dysphoria Blues shows a revitalized energy for the band, an energy that they haven't been able to capture on their last few outings. Musically, it isn't all too different from White Crosses, rather, it improves on all the things that made it such a lackluster record.

Transgender Dysphoria Blues isn't hopeful or celebratory, and it isn't supposed to be. It's moody, dark and scathing, highlighting all the downbeat consequences that come with the gender switch. Part of what makes this album more passionate and energetic than its predecessors is the sheer amount of honesty that Grace puts into these lyrics. The line "Shoulders too broad for a girl / Keeps you reminded, helps you remember where you came from" from the title track is a pretty powerful one that shows the frustration of adjusting to a new body, and you can truly feel the pain and agony that spawned these lyrics. It's all self-loathing and no glimmer of hope, as titles like "***MYLIFE666" suggest. The entire focal point of Transgender Dysphoria Blues is Grace's struggle to deal with gender transition, after all, so shouldn't its lyrics reflect the depressing mindset of the album's theme? All of the pent-up emotions that have occurred since her coming out are finally being released, and most of those emotions probably aren't joyful.

As I said earlier, one of the main reasons why I eagerly anticipated this album was because I was interested the hear the effect that becoming a woman would have on Grace as a singer. If anything, Transgender Dysphoria Blues improves over Against Me!'s last few albums because of her gender transition. There were so many moments on White Crosses where Gabel's vocals sounded flat and tired, but on this record, Grace is truly singing from her heart, resulting in a more passionate and emotional experience. The sudden burst of energy and enthusiasm could be because of how personal the album's subject matter is for her, and because of that, all the doubts I had about how Grace would sound as a woman were compromised.

Musically, this album isn't all that different from the average White Crosses - both albums are arguably just as mainstream as each other. However, Transgender Dysphoria Blues improves on so many of the things that wore White Crosses down – the most notable being a sharp decrease in the number of filler tracks. With the album’s total runtime clocking in at just under twenty-nine minutes, there’s little room for Against Me! to repeat themselves. The album’s only lackluster song would be “Unconditional Love”, which suffers from repetitiveness and a pretty weak vocal performance. Meanwhile, “Drinking With the Jocks” lets all of Grace’s fury out in a nearly two-minute blitz of fervor. It’s got all the elements of a perfect little punk tune: Grace lets out some nice heavy screams (ones that have been dormant for far too long), guitarist James Bowman lays down some pretty nice riffs and Atom Willard proves just how much he adds to the band’s sound. The first half of Transgender Dysphoria Blues seems more like the relentless attack of Grace’s repressed emotions and the catharsis of all her frustrations. However, starting from “Dead Friend”, the album’s sound generally becomes more melodic and slower. Tearjerker “Two Coffins” shows the best of Against Me!’s soft side, as Grace sings a sweet acoustic ballad in honor of her wife, Heather Hannoura, and her support during these troubled times. It’s truly a touching tribute, and lines like “How lucky I ever was to see the way you smiled at me / All the things I have yet to lose will someday be gone too” evoke the emotions of love and trust that the two have in their relationship.

With Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me! have not only proved that they can bounce back from a few shaky releases and return with their best album in eight years, but that they can tackle a topic as strong and controversial as transgender people with the same amount of passion and emotion that went into preaching anarchism. The personal subject matter could have been what made Grace finally sound like she was singing from her heart, and the lyrical content is so goddamn brutally honest that you can hear the self-hatred in her voice. With all that mind, what if Transgender Dysphoria Blues could expose the struggle of the trans community and educate the ignorant on how society shouldn’t look down on them. As for the band, their revitalized energy and passion was the one main reason why this album was able to improve over all of White Crosses’ flaws. Let's just hope Against Me! will be able to keep their momentum going...



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user ratings (393)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Green Baron
January 13th 2014



19773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sucks when you're the 1st person to start writing a review and be the last to finish =(

Stream: http://www.npr.org/2014/01/12/261095666/first-listen-against-me-transgender-dysphoria-blues

Feedback appreciated

Digging: Royal Blood - Royal Blood

TheSupernatural
January 13th 2014



1140 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[i]New Wave[i]

Digging: Islander - Violence and Destruction

Green Baron
January 13th 2014



19773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fripper they're basically punk rock with some folk influences thrown in there, although they've been getting more mainstream with each subsequent release. they do really good acoustic work though, check out their acoustic Against Me! EP and Reinventing Axl Rose (their best non acoustic album)

Green Baron
January 13th 2014



19773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool lemme know what you think of them

spookynewghostfriend
January 13th 2014



3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album is =} + :^)

MosesMalone
January 14th 2014



1836 Comments


I think by 2014 the struggle of homosexuals has been exposed already.

spookynewghostfriend
January 14th 2014



3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

in the 5% of the world that is developed people are aware of sexual/gender minority problems ye but being bi is like "ur just want attention" being asexual and being trans is like "wtf ur a freak" many gay people 20 years ago wouldnt go near trans with a ten foot pole. knowing two people who have had to change cities and stop talking to their families, trans is definitely a touchy issue even in developed places like FO REAL

spookynewghostfriend
January 14th 2014



3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hate to come off like a tumblr fgt but yeah shitty stuff

MosesMalone
January 14th 2014



1836 Comments


Well I dunno even in the little suburban town I live in in Texas (of all places) nobody gives a shit. For that matter though I kinda doubt this album has enough reach to make all other states in the union legalize gay marriage or whatever. To compare it to Uncle Tom's Cabin is like comparing tomb of the mutilated to The Raven. This isn't turning out nearly as funny/snarky as I thought it did in my head.

sixdegrees
January 14th 2014



16951 Comments


quit while you're ahead

Digging: Ted Nugent - Shutup&jam!

MosesMalone
January 14th 2014



1836 Comments


Actually comparing the raven to tomb of the mutilated is probably a more apt comparison.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
January 14th 2014



10070 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think by 2014 the struggle of homosexuals has been exposed already.

"Please, guys, we already understand the fact that a lot of people don't treat you fairly. Y'know, it's nothing personal that we don't want the album to be called Transgender Dysphoria Blues. But, c'mon, could you budge for us just a liiiiiittle?"

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
January 14th 2014



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7 | Sound Off

This album has very little to do with the direct plight of homosexuals why is that a sticking point here

Green Baron
January 14th 2014



19773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not a sticking point just a little bit at the end

Jom
Staff Reviewer
January 14th 2014



2670 Comments


But gay != transgender. I don't know if it's a cultural thing or ignorance from not knowing the
difference, but that lack of knowledge isn't so much misleading as it is objectionable.

I can understand where people just learning kinda lazily lump these minority groups together because
of the LGBTQI alphabet soup, but one's sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity mean different
things.

http://www.glaad.org/transgender

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
January 14th 2014



13027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

teach em jom

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TheBarber
January 14th 2014



1840 Comments


JOM! JOM! JOM!

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Green Baron
January 14th 2014



19773 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I can understand where people just learning kinda lazily lump these minority groups together because of the LGBTQI alphabet soup"

and this is exactly what happens. all included under a general term

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
January 14th 2014



21791 Comments


gay isn't a general term

Digging: Gesaffelstein - Aleph

spookynewghostfriend
January 14th 2014



3369 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this album is so nice 2 listen 2 =] almost better than the 59 sound



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