As a living embodiment of the DIY ethos, Rosenstock may be the closest thing to a true artist that there is. At this point in his career, it can be easy to summarize a Jeff Rosenstock album – it’s going to be loud, incredibly catchy, and dripping with a mature honesty that’s almost impossible to find elsewhere. Yet somehow, he manages to surprise and impress each time.
POST-, is the surprising first release of 2018 (I’m making it official!). It is also surprisingly inspirational, given Rosenstock’s track record. He is known for realistic stories that relish in not feeling like an adequate adult while the people around you make responsible decisions. Meanwhile, you are drinking a tallboy alone.
He is brutally honest and doesn’t glorify these aspects of life, nor does he shame or look down on them. POST-, however, turns some of these concepts on their head.
Partially inspired by some of the social commentary from previous album, WORRY., POST- hints at societal problems and uses these vague ideas to shout anthems to inspire and sympathize. “USA” hints at the gang mentality of tearing someone apart because society is bored. “As they held him down, the crowd got loud / And they cheered when they thought he had escaped”. Instead of casting judgement, he simply sings, “Oh what else could they say? / They said, “Well, you promised us the stars and now we’re tired and bored”.
Immediately afterwards, “Yr Throat” bounces with a plea to speak your mind as long as it’s honest. “What’s the point of having a voice when it gets stuck inside your throat?” The song delves into the stress and pressures of handling yourself properly, and adds the reminder, “If you’re a piece of shit, they don’t let you go”.
While the thesis may be slightly different, the uncomfortably honest lyrics reflect some inner demons. Doing his best Ben Folds impression during “TV Stars”, Rosenstock croons about coping with seeing a past love in someone else’s arms by comparing it to his ability to play piano. “I can’t play piano all that well / Like, I’m fine, I can get away with it / If I’m acting like I’m drunk on stage / And you’re shocked that I’m playing anything / I’ll get away with it”.
Rosenstock hits on the fear of loneliness in “Powerlessness” in a way that terrifies. His voice is frantic, trying to get his message out before he is alone again. “I haven’t spoken to another person in a month / Well, small talk, obviously, but nothing beyond barely catching up / I have lots of things to say, but they’re gonna sound dumb, dumb, dumb / I have lots of things to say, but I’m just an idiot”.
Sonically, Rosenstock absolutely slams it. The guitars crunch with the confidence of Weezer and the experimental melody of early Brand New. John Dedomenici’s bass lays a gorgeous backbone to the songs (“Melba”) and Kevin Higuchi’s drumming is a hypnotic wall of sound (“Powerlessness”). However, the songs always keep you guessing with surprising twists.
“USA” starts as a solid rock song, complete with cowbell, only to fall apart into an atmosphere of synth before it bridges a guitar solo and a chant so catchy, it’s impossible not to see theaters filled with fans screaming it to the rafters.
“TV Stars” begins as a melancholy ballad that evolves into a devastating piano-driven rock song. “Melba” is the poppiest and most melodic song on the album. It also takes the deepest stab at a scene that preaches incessantly about grabbing for your dreams, as Rosenstock sings, “So go on, listen to some stupid song / And pretend to sing along / And try remembering what I’d think was smart when I was young / Where my memory makes me strong, but the record shows me dumb and breaking everything”.
If nothing else, it is impossible to deny that Jeff Rosenstock is anything but authentic. He conveys an honestly that artists of any type would kill to be able to express half as well. It doesn’t preach or judge, but that doesn’t make it any less devastating. His cracking and sometimes off-key vocals add to the ferocity of throwing the ideas out there. However, set to some expertly crafted punk songs, these are some of the most unique tracks that have fun confronting the universal demons we all encounter.
Photo by Hiro Tanaka
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and viscerally delighted by a surprise Jeff Rosenstock album to start the year. Hooray.