Jeff Rosenstock - POST- Album Review
Long Island native Jeff Rosenstock has had quite a diverse musical career, having been associated with numerous different genres since the mid-90’s. From grunge rock to experimental folk rock, to indie punk, Rosenstock has slowly used these varied artistic directions to mold his current ambition of revitalizing pop-punk. Rosenstock’s experimentation came into true fruition with 2016’s Worry., a 17 track album that bluntly tackled the controversial topics of police brutality and gentrification through breakneck medleys that were labeled as punk’s answer to The Beatles’ Abbey Road. With his new album POST-, Rosenstock maintains that political fervor, though in a more introspective and intricate manner.
POST- has Rosenstock firmly focused on the events of the contentious 2016 presidential election and the political fallout post-election. Though instead of filling his album with succinct political anthems, Rosenstock mixes in a handful of songs that explores the apathy created by lacking political agency. While it’s an important topic to explore, Rosenstock fails to delve deeper than surface level save for only a handful of songs. For every “TV Stars” or “9/10” that use that introspection as a lens into the societal failings that led to Donald Trump’s presidency, there is an “All This Useless Energy” or “Powerlessness” that are too lost in processing abstract internal emotions to fit into a grander context.
On previous records, Rosenstock would channel his strong and unique personality into his songwriting rather than it serving as the subject matter of his songs. While there’s nothing wrong with moving in this direction artistically, Rosenstock does little to offer anything new to this emo style of pop-punk that hasn’t been done for nearly a decade before him. Unfortunately, Rosenstock’s songwriting, while still heads and shoulders above his pop-punk contemporaries, feels like it’s taking a step back compared to his previous albums for this very reason.
This step back is most prevalent on “USA” and “Let Them Win,” which serve as Rosenstock’s second foray into incorporating medley/progressive inspired songwriting styles since using it them for the second half of Worry. In comparison to those last nine songs of Worry., “USA” and “Let Them Win” lack a severe sense of charisma. Rosenstock and his band’s performance chops and personality are flatters this time around, feeling instead like extended crescendos rather than innovative combinations of vastly different styles. Though the complex songwriting style found on “USA” and “Let Them Win” can be effective with the right subject matter, it fails to elevate the emotional resonance of the subject matter by spreading too little too thinly. It’s exciting to listen to, but it serves more as flair than artistic innovation.
Still, despite POST- feeling like a step back for Rosenstock, a step-back from such great records like We Cool? and Worry. is still leaps and bounds above everyone else currently putting out music in pop-punk right now. POST- may be a weak “Jeff Rosenstock” album, but still remains an entertaining and effective pop-punk album. It makes the societal and political statements a great pop-punk album should, even if its ambitious nature doesn’t totally pan out.
Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video studies. To contact her, email email@example.com
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.