To say the last few years have been eventful for Florida rock band Against Me! is a bit of an understatement. They left their major label, drummer Jay Weinberg quit the band via Twitter, long-time bassist Andrew Seward swapped the tour life for family life… Oh, and frontman Tom Gabel began the emotional, physical and hormonal transition to becoming frontwoman Laura Jane Grace.

Unsurprisingly, Against Me’s sixth studio albumTransgender Dysphoria Bluesis all about Grace’s transgender. Based on the concept of the experiences of a transsexual hooker, the theme could easily be inserted into Grace’s recent life.Bluesis laced with doubt, anger and above all, a yearning for acceptance. There’s honesty in the storytelling that is both heart wrenching and empowering. When Grace pleads, “You want them to see you like they see any other girl” in the title track, you can’t help but hope she’ll find happiness. Musically,Blueswalks the line between the band’s old punk sounds and the newer polished material.

Through the anthemic rock numbers (‘Transgender Dysphoria Blues’, ‘Black Me Out’) to the sombre moments (‘Two Coffins’), one thing is clear: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

4/5 stars

Out now on Total Treble/Resist

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