Jeff Rosenstock - POST- - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Jeff Rosenstock - POST-

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2018-03-23
Jeff Rosenstock - POST-
Jeff Rosenstock - POST-

Jeff Rosenstock’s POST- did not immediately get me. Or, more precisely, I just didn’t get it. Rosenstock’s songwriting and gnarled, fuzzy guitar sound initially struck me as too clever, too simplistic and frankly too loud. The album’s opener, “USA,” is sung in a style slightly too reminiscent of that whiny, every-act-on-the-Vans-Warped-Tour, accent I’ve loathed since 1997. Plus, why was this dude shouting Ace of Base references at me? Where did he get the testicular fortitude to suggest I was part of the problem? My discomfort just had to be his fault:

“I saw the sign, but it was misleading/ I fought the law, but the law was cheating/ Screaming for help, but somebody keeps on telling me to settle down/ Please be honest/ Tell me; was it you?”

But my discomfort wasn’t Rosenstock’s fault, it was all mine. I was just wrong; too judgmental and too unprepared for Rosenstock’s special brand of punk-pop. I was also completely unprepared for POST- to be the kind of record so many of us have been searching for. Unchecked pessimism, brought on by a political climate in which the merits of Fascism are currently being relitigated, is overwhelming. Rosenstock, disillusioned by the discourse, or lack thereof, seems to have written POST- in some kind of a hyper-creative emotional purge. The aggression driving many of these songs not dissimilar to the involuntarily clenched muscles required to expel contaminated food from the stomach during a bout with botulism.

Though Rosenstock is lyrically pessimistic throughout POST-, he remains somehow emotionally hopeful through a kind of brutally introspective self-awareness. It’s as if he knows he has little to offer the revolution(s), other than ineffectual outrage, and has instead resigned himself to managing his angst while mulling over whatever comes next. Sometimes the best course of action is to shut up and listen—even if what you hear scares the shit out of you. Case in point: “Powerlessness”

“It came on suddenly/ 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”

POST-‘s longest and most joyful track, “Let Them Win,” is also its most hopeful. Rosenstock’s shut-up-and-think strategy from “Powerlessness” now transitioning into a kind of anti-fascist rope-a-dope. Over more than eleven minutes, Rosenstock describes a series of epic beat downs—physical, psychological and emotionally brutal. A “they/them” beating relentlessly on Rosentock’s “we/us” and still, in spite of the assault, Rosenstock’s side resists.

“They can make us feel afraid/ And try to turn it into hate, oh yeah/ They can steal our slice/ For the hundredth time/ Judge us when we cry/ And never empathize/ With anyone but themselves”

And then a massive chorus, made up of numerous voices shouting out over distorted guitars and pounding drums:

“But we’re not gonna let them win, oh noooooo!/ We’re not gonna let them win, oh noooooo!”

If POST- makes one easy to understand point, it’s that human connection and real empathy matter. The ways in which we distract ourselves from the shit storm—digital media, inebriation, nihilism and isolation—only deepen our divisions. The solution, as posited by Jeff Rosenstock, is that human contact involving listening, sharing and uniting is the only way out of this mess. It’s a rather basic idea but, when the leader of the free world constantly behaves like a toddler who just shit himself, maybe going back to basics is our best move. If you’re like me, you might just catch yourself singing along to one of POST-‘s isolation anthems, and no longer feeling quite so hopeless.

 

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars