Coming to a conclusion about an album like Against Me!’s “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” is difficult, because it’s hard to separate the music from the context. As Against Me!’s first album after lead-singer Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender, it clearly has a lot of social themes that are incredibly important at this time, but importance of that kind can often result in an album being overrated.
After giving it time and several listens, I’ve determined that the album is worth the hype, is musically among Against Me!’s finest albums and that I might actually be underrating it, if anything.
Against Me!: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” (Total Treble Music) No matter how its quality is viewed later on, this will likely be seen as an important album. Regardless of whether you hate the band, or love the band and just hate the album, it will be viewed as a major accomplishment. So, skepticism is understandable, as it is with all major albums. But, unless my ears are deceiving me, the music here is unbelievably strong, more so than any pure rock album I’ve heard in the past couple years. Lines like
“Even if your love was unconditional/It still wouldn’t be enough to save me” and “Black me out/I want to piss on the walls of your house” are emotionally powerful, but they also retain the anthemic power that the group has always had. At under a half hour, this is the fast, meaningful record that I imagine
Laura Jane Grace has wanted to record since she wrote the lyrics to “The Ocean.” Grade: A MINUS
Speedy Ortiz: “Real Hair” (Carpark) After everybody, including myself, overrated them last year, it’s nice to have a fresh start. Four songs, all of which show off the band’s strengths without trying to transcend them. More worthy of repeated listens than “Major Arcana.” Grade: A MINUS
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