Jeff Rosenstock, punchy hook propagator and pop-punk’s answer to a hormonal Noam Chomsky, delivers his most inescapable, emotion-driven analysis of modern-day malcontent yet.
“Dumbfounded, downtrodden and dejected// Crestfallen, grief-stricken and exhausted,” sings Rosenstock with the album’s first lyrics on USA, a sprawling 7-minute barrage of power-pop balladry that ‘POST-’s main sentiments circumvent and go on to explore in painstakingly, distressing detail.
Popular culture, as well as mainstream media outlets, bestow blame upon the white working-class, MAGA-cap sporting Trumpian caricatures for the current socio-political disarray in the U.S. Rosenstock, wary of everyone and everything, sees a man with his family in a crossover SUV at a service station and beleaguers them for answers. “But please be honest//Tell me was it you?//I won’t hate you//I just need to know.” He’s clawing desperately for even a modicum of closure.
Past all of the initial outrage, upheaval and psuedo-civil-disobedience, the screams fade and wearisome small-talk resumes with everyday life placating the overtly political. A more plain-sighted and unnerving anxiety envelops.
Powerlessness captures this deafening sense of despair. Rosenstock sings of self-preservation on the hook. “How can you solve all the problems around you//When you can’t even solve the ones in your head?”. The hook perforates frantic, throbbing guitar-play. Like this highlight, soaring, guitar-driven flourishes polish off many tracks. Melodies and power chords swell up until they burst organically at the reams (Yr Throat, Let Them Win).
Jeff Rosenstock snores punchy, ineffably sticky hooks. Copious levels of exasperation, exhaustion and disgust flood ‘POST-’, hooks included. The marriage of melody with the magnetic draw of his self-effacement and personally-wrought insights make for an equally endearing and tormenting listen.
Profound, pithy statements are few – it’s Jeff’s sardonic self-flagellation and introspection that help guide you, without pause, through society’s pitiful disintegration. Afflicted, with little hope, he sings of spirit-crumbling insomnia in All This Useless Energy: “Oh please//You’re not fooling anyone//When you say you tried your best//‘cause you can’t be your best anything//When you can’t get any rest”.
All This Useless Energy’s grunge-theatrics and howling guitars provide the ideal background for Rosenstock’s perverse feelings of helplessness. “But all this useless energy//Won’t hold me through the night”. How and who, in such chaotic and crippled times, do you focus the blame?
TV Stars and 9/10 are subtle, down-tempo ballads that could easily be misconstrued as being entirely hopeless. The latter, with its sparkling chimes and mid-tempo piano balladry, paints a dreamy picture of a detached, red-eyed Rosenstock longing for companionship despite his innate predispositions for loneliness and despair. “I’m so out of place when I can’t be with you// If I don’t see your face//It’s almost like I missed you”
Rosenstock’s last release ‘WORRY’ was a terse yet irrepressible, glistening pool of punk subgenres while ‘POST-’ is more easily digestible – towering power-pop hooks and anthemic pop-punk anthems cascade the track-listing in what sounds like vitality for a new year. ‘POST-’ is an extension of WORRY’s fractured pre-election anxiety as we enter a new era, still awash in uncertainty.
Of the last decade, post- is the buzz prefix. Rosenstock’s latest lies unsettled somewhere in a sea of postmodernist ideals, post-social media human-interactions and post-truths. He situates us in the claustrophobic period of ‘after’, perpetually trying to catch up with the progressive, utopian future we continue to imagine for ourselves. None of us have answers, just a litany of contradictory emotions that Rosenstock’s restlessness captures so vividly.