Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Album Review: Jeff Rosenstock - POST-

Before I even put on Jeff Rosenstock’s new album, I wondered what the title meant. Because I had done no research, simply picking it up after a favorable review, I presumed the title POST- had something to do with genre. Typically in music (or any art form, for that matter), “post-” refers to a stylistic shift. I wondered if that was the case here, if the album was a departure from the artist's previous work. It did not really matter though, considering I was also unfamiliar with the artist. To be fair, I never do much research on music before I listen to it.

At any rate, since I had no expectations, I was pleasantly surprised when the album blew me away. My theory about genre shift was partly correct. Bookended by a 7- and an 11-minute song, the album accomplishes a variety of styles. Furthermore, each of the styles function incredibly well in their moment. Every song is given a chance to breathe. From the anthemic opener to the melodic close, the album resonated with me, fairly immediately and constantly.

Although musical styles evolve during the album’s run, each song has a personability which remains throughout. Even the most raw songs are endearing, as if Rosenstock is presenting a gift. The energy is both simplistic and brilliant. And despite the repeating oppressive nature of the words, there is a sense of hopefulness nothing short triumphant.

The best art comes from turbulent eras, and POST- feels very much a part of its time. The opening track is an angry, resilient yelling match about the state of life, appropriately titled “USA.” This bleeds directly into an equally angry, yet equally resilient “Yr Throat.” The finale reassures us that we will do anything but “Let Them Win.” (You can fill in your personal ‘them.’) All of this should come as no surprise in 2018. In fact, it becomes more difficult not to listen to the music without the lens of time and place.

Only a couple listens of this new album were enough to make me go back to his older material. With POST-, I found, Rosenstock doesn't really do anything new. I know this sounds like an indictment, but it's not meant to be. Instead, what I mean is that there is a melding of a variety of different sources. These sources are evident throughout the record. There are echoes of Weezer, shades of Titus Andronicus, even bits of DIY punk. In effect, I think this is why the album appeals so much to me. Is nostalgia enough to win over an album? Can you even call it "nostalgia" if it is for something you have never before experienced? Over the course of 40 minutes, POST- effortlessly manages to transport me to different eras of my musical tastes. It would not sound out of place to me in high school or in college. It is certainly not out of place for me now.