Jeff Rosenstock - "POST-"
Polyvinyl Record Co. / January 5th 2018
Days into 2018, Jeff Rosenstock caught the music world off-guard with his release, “POST-“. An album bursting at the seams with energy, crunchy unconventional and impatient guitar riffs, and vocals with lyrics that don’t waste a single letter. Rosenstock is fed up. However, his message is not an apathetic reflection of the state of the world and his life. No. “POST-“ is an angry, frenetic, urgent middle-finger at US politics and an unforgiving biography of his current emotional state. He's angry at himself, angry at what makes Jeff Rosenstock, Jeff Rosenstock. He's angry at the USA and everyone around him. In the process, he has delivered a superlative punk rock album that will be a tough act to follow for future punk releases of 2018.
Bookended by the album’s strongest (and longest) songs, Rosenstock and the band refuse to stick to punk conventions. The bass walks up and down scales relentlessly and the drums are sneaky technical, with unique creativity in even the simplest of patterns. This is a band teeming with inextinguishable creative and musical ability and humbly shows it off in every bar. This disobedience of past punk conventions makes “POST-“ a helluva fun album to listen to. Kicked off by a pissed off, indignant punk beat-down of the USA government, “USA” is an achievement. Screaming and begging, “Tell me was it you? I won’t hate you, I just need to know” Rosenstock is dying to know who voted for President Trump. Playing with unusually long drum build ups over the words “We’re tired and bored”, “USA” explodes into a triumphant anthem that unites us all in our confusion and daze.
In between “USA” and the finale “Let them Win”, the band mixes in some slower and more introspective songs. In “Yr Throat”, he wails “What’s the point of having a voice, when it gets stuck inside your throat?” Frustrated by not being able to articulate or speak up when it matters, the song sprints to a breakdown that you’ll mosh to. Still, clearly at the forefront of his mind, the song is littered with more questioning of the unfathomable political world. Comparing the job of the President to the rest of the world’s jobs, “If you’re a piece of shit, they don’t let you go”, Rosenstock infuses his political anger with chunky, fuzzy Weezer-esque guitar riffs and tumbling drum patterings.
“TV Stars” and “9/10” slow the tempos down and with some comedic lyrics about playing the piano well enough to “get away with it”. The theme of being straight up pissed off about who he is continues. “It’s like somebody traded out my skin for something I could never feel good in” just about sums up his painful self-awareness of his flaws. Some of the albums best moments are when in these songs, the tempos are brought down and there is more space for the band to breathe. Ultimately, these changes of pace exemplify Rosenstock’s lyrical talent. Lyrics like, “Every little victory don’t matter, if nobody seems to care. Winning ten bucks on a scratch-off lotto ticket, the keys you thought disappeared”, show his ability to balance muses on depression, with never taking himself too seriously.
“Let Them Win” is an anthem. Spanning over 11 minutes, half of which are a serene synth floating on its own, the song is both angry and vulnerable. Not hiding a shred of hatred towards the Republican Party, the lyrics are straightforward. “We’re not going to let them win”. Rally cries scream on top of a head-nodding tightly played beat, syncopated until the emotion bubbles over. The song progresses with cymbal crashes every beat and backup vocals layering, panning, and chanting, while the guitar solo buzzes and pushes the dial higher. This layering slowly fades to Rosenstock alone on an acoustic guitar, singing the same words, although this time there is a loneliness to it. Quivering as he strums, it is a moment where his stage persona is gone, and Jeff is frightened and alone. Muttering the same words like an old man in a rocking chair, the anger and passion is now nothing more than a whisper and a dream. With that, we float away with 4 more minutes of synth work, and the first great album of 2018 is finished.