Album review: Jeff Rosenstock’s ‘POST-‘ delivers cathartic, smart and incredibly fun pop-punk gold

By Josh Kirk 

On January 1st, musician Jeff Rosenstock released his fourth studio album ‘POST-‘ along side his Record Label Polyvinyl Records.  The album grapples with post-election stress.

On the musical fronts, the album blends together pop punk, indie rock, emo, power pop and even Beatles-inspired psychedelia into one delicious, satisfying melting pot of sound. This may be Rosenstock’s most fed up and ambitious record to date, even after 2016’s excellent, Abbey Road-inspired concept album, WORRY. The lyrics address themes of depression, anxiety, anger, political horror, and optimism. It also features two of the singer’s longest tracks to date, “USA”, clocking in at seven minutes and thirty-two seconds and “Let Them Win”, coming in at a whopping eleven minutes and ten seconds. Wowza!

Jeff Rosenstock is a punk rock singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Long Island, NY. He has played in several punk bands before his own solo work, such as Bomb!, The Music Industry, and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. His styles and influences range from punk rock, pop punk, ska punk, indie rock, and emo. He has released over three solo albums before ‘POST-‘: I Look Like Shit (2012), We Cool? (2015) and WORRY. (2016). Nate Scott of USA Today has ranked WORRY. as the best album of 2016. We Cool? and WORRY. are two records with a diverse array of influences and hilarious, self-deprecating lyrics.

Highlights/interesting tracks/moments:

  • “USA” – Man, this song bangs pretty hard. Its lyrics take a searing and anxious look into the state of our country while delivering a peppy, exciting guitar hook. The song eventually transitions from a manic chant, “We’re tired and bored” into a gorgeous ambient synth coda before coming back into the manic shouts, which only get angrier as they build up. So awesome!
  • “All This Useless Energy”– I love the lo-fi distortion effects used on his voice, which are just as fragile as a piece of hard steel. The song features some wonderfully poetic lines, i.e. “Cuts through night with a scalpel for the light/That bleeds through the margins and leaves me semi-conscious”, as he personifies his darkness. Also, kudos to the wailing slide guitar part.
  • “TV Stars” – This track meshes elements of Beatlesesque psychedelia, with Rosenstock’s usual punk roots. Surprisingly it really works! It opens with colorful keyboards, moaning lap steel, intricate drumming to make Ringo blush. The jangly 12-string guitar played over hilarious lyrics which take a self-deprecating look at his musical disabilities. Then the song transitions into a heavier, cathartic mid-section, which sounds so incredible before closing with a lonely piano outro, reminiscent of Conor Oberst’s stripped back 2016 album, Ruminations. A really nifty song structure I must say.
  • “Melba” – One of the most fun songs on the album. This song features laid-back punk instrumentation, accompanied by clever, whip-smart lyrics about how traveling can result in redemption, as well as intense anxiety. The syncopation of instruments is on point, not to mention the lively gang vocals provided by Canadian punk-rockers, PUP.
  • “9/10″– Probably the least punkish track Jeff has dished out, but it is one of his best-written too. This song takes a slightly more vague outlook on how political gloom and doom can trigger a deep state of depression and apathy, leading to mistrust of loved ones. It’s good to see him maturing here. I also should point out the gorgeous backing instruments: synthesizers, glockenspiel, and Mellotron choirs. The backing vocals from Laura Stevenson, make it sweet on the ears.
  • “Let Them Win” – Probably by far the longest song in Jeff’s solo discography, clocking in at over eleven minutes. However, it’s also maybe the most optimistic song in the track listing too. The song mentions how politicians may be hungry to crucify us, but yet we’re not going to let them win. Hello, Catharsis 101. I really love the progressive buildup of the song, the peppy chant of “We’re not going to let them win”, aided awesomely by Canadian punk band, PUP, the incredible guitar solo and the beautiful transition from acoustic guitar to an extended ambient synth drone outro, which reminds me of an orchestra, just with stacked keyboards. There couldn’t be a more satisfying closure to this amazing album.

Takeaway/verdict:Highly recommended. The first album of 2018 and already one of the best of the year. Keep going strong, Mr. Rosenstock! Strong 8/10.