Against Me! is one of the few bands I get truly hyped for, but accordingly they’re also one of the few bands I truly love. Searching For a Former Clarity is easily in my top five albums of all time, and even stuff like White Crosses, which I was admittedly lukewarm to, is still pretty good in my opinion. True Trans is a two song acoustic EP that serves as a taste of the (probably) monumental Transgender Dysphoria Blues, and while definitely having a couple of good moments, I couldn’t shake the impression of unrealized potential.
“FuckMyLife666” is a great song title, but unfortunately contributes to the malaise of meh that permeates True Trans. Which is unfortunate, because the song isn’t an absolute failure by any means. “FuckMyLife666” is positively afloat with striking lyrical content. Lines like, “Chipped nail polish and a barbed wire dress/ Is your mother proud of your eyelashes?/ Silicone chest and collagen lips/ How would you even recognize me?” humanize the changes and feelings of doubt Laura Jane Grace is going through. The song is less a celebration of publicly claiming her identity, and more of a lament at the lengths she’ll have to go through to fully realize it. Where “FuckMyLife666” fails is in it’s execution, it’s a good song marred by boring production. It doesn’t help that on a two song EP, it doesn’t do much to stand out against its counterpart.
The meat of this release is “True Trans Soul Rebel,” a more uplifting song that is for the most part pretty good. It’s chorus, built around multiple hooks that ascend into a high register, is fairly catchy. Containing the line “does God bless your transexual heart?,” it ponders a higher acceptance in the face of adversity, and while it’s universality is affected by its specifics, I still couldn’t help but feel the emotional resonance. “True Trans Soul Rebel” is an anthem that communicates Laura Jane Grace’s struggle with a crystal clarity, the lines “You should’ve been a mother, you should’ve been a wife. You should’ve been gone from here years ago, you should be living a different life,” are especially touching as they give the listener an intimate window into feelings most of us won’t ever feel. But again, it’s too similar to “FuckMyLife666.” True Trans is two songs long and too homogenous. They both are built around a strummed acoustic guitar chord progression, and do little to differentiate themselves from each other. The High Pressure Low seven-inch was a similar release that proves Against Me! can pull off an acoustic EP. Unfortunately, True Trans is missing that same level of dynamics and honestly would’ve benefited from better songs.
True Trans has its moments, but ultimately falls short of greatness. Neither song is ever fully able to claim it’s own identity in the presence of the other, and unfortunately it makes for a boring, samey listen. With that said, this is new Against Me!, and most fans (myself included) are going to eat this release up in eager anticipation for Transgender Dysphoria Blues. But for those of you only casually interested, this is far from essential.