Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues
All hail your new punk queen, Laura Jane Grace. That might elicit laughter from those who wrote off her band Against Me! after its spit-shined, major-label 2010 effort White Crosses. But on this self-released sixth album, wielding demon-slaying riffs and clarion articulation, Grace—joined by three bandmates—wallops with assuredness, undeniable purpose and formidable hooks. The thrash-pop “Drinking With the Jocks,” one of several songs that addresses her lifelong issues with the gender identity disorder that titles this collection (she publicly came out in 2012 as a woman, dropping her birth name Tom Gabel), is mandatory streaming for every school-age misfit. There’s a handful of similarly compelling manifestos on this searing, breakneck record, one offering solace to anyone struggling with acceptance—or who has longed for a rock record this honest and hopeful. Grace’s transition isn’t over, but it’s already sounding triumphant.