There is an elephant in the room, let’s just acknowledge it. Against Me! lead singer Laura Jane Grace got a sex change before this album. This album is understandably largely about that to no surprise but other Against Me! songs have touched on this in the past so this really isn’t all that shocking. Grace’s vocal performance remains in tact to the point of not being able to notice so this “elephant” is really quite irrelevant and simply back-story.
The songs are stellar. They rock hard and keep the same punk edge that you can come to expect from the veteran band. There are awkward moments as a listener because of the subject matter but the lyrics still paint a vivid picture of the tormented narrative of the album. “Your tells are so obvious, shoulders too broad for a girl.” is the line that starts the album and the battle ensues for the remaining 9 songs filled with frustration and anger. By the third track “Unconditional Love” you’ll stop squirming in your chair and be shouting along with Grace on the choruses. The final song of the first side, unfortunately titled “Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ” has coats of grinding guitars and the feel of a System of a Down song only not so erratic. The also unfortunately titled “Fuckymylife666” is another strong song that is more in the vein of other Against Me! tunes and was even the song they performed on Letterman off the record.
If you can stumble past the awkward subject matter (for the vast majority of people anyway) this is an extremely good pop-punk record and is well worth the effort.
Key Track: “Osama Bin Laden as the Crucified Christ”