American punk that confronts death, drug addiction and fascism
Commercial US punk rock isn’t currently known for its thoughtful tackling of weighty issues. “Despite Green Day’s latter atonements, since Rancid’s semi-political dabblings, by and large the genre has become more of a soundtrack to 2am beer pong tournaments than a spotlight on persecution and prejudice. Here’s looking at you, Green Day. Against Me!’s sixth album, however, is not simply music to carve an apple bong to. It tackles singer Laura Jane Grace’s recent transition from male to female, and also encompasses death, drug addiction and fascism – but you can totally still skank to it. ‘Osama Bin Laden As The Crucified Christ’ has all the friskiness of FIDLAR but namechecks the death of Mussolini, and ‘Dead Friend’ is an impassioned and upbeat tribute to a late buddy. It’s Grace’s own personal journey with gender dysphoria in ‘True Trans Soul Rebel’, ‘Paralytic States’ and ‘Drinking With The Jocks’ that has the most impact, though, the latter being the sort of raging polemic that proves the hardcore spirit of Black Flag is still alive and kicking.