Jeff Rosenstock – Post- (Polyvinyl)

People who say rock is missing clearly have not been looking hard enough because if they were they would have found Jeff Rosenstock.

Jeff Rosenstock is an independent Long Island punk rock singer/songwriter who has just released his third solo album POST-. Rosenstock has been around a few years featuring in various bands, including as a member of ska punk band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and music collective Bomb the Music Industry! However, it has been through his solo offerings that he has begun to gain the attention of critics and fans alike, despite making a name for himself as being a bit of a self-proclaimed music industry outsider.

His critical breakthrough came in 2016 with WORRY, deemed by many to be one of the albums of the year with its aggressive guitar-driven punk sound conjuring up comparisons to the likes of 80’s American college rock band The Replacements. This is a direction he has continued to go down on POST-, all be it with fewer songs. While WORRY was a short album of seventeen high-velocity songs, POST- is more of a compact affair featuring only ten tracks.

Despite this album being a shortened affair, the aggression and punk rock sound he perfected on WORRY is still there on POST- but with more of a political bent. Most of the album was written just after the 2016 US Presidential Election and many of the songs reflect the sense of outrage and disgust that America could elect someone like Donald Trump to the White House. Opening track USA definitely reflects Rosenstock’s initial feelings of the changing political climate post-election, with the opening lyrics “dumbfounded, downtrodden and dejected, crestfallen, grief-stricken and exhausted, trapped in my room while the house was burnin’ to the motherfuckin’ ground” capturing the mood perfectly.

The politically-charged nature of the record continues on the next few tracks, with Yr Throat, All This Uselessness Energy, and Powerlessness tapping into Rosenstock’s state of mind post-election set to a thundering chorus of heavy power chords and booming drums. The middle of the album then kicks off with the beautiful power pop ballad TV Stars, a song which contains the great line “TV stars don’t care about who you are.” This song builds and builds before climaxing with some fantastic harmonised pop vocals in what is surely one of Rosenstock’s best solo tracks to date.

The back end of the album continues with some more heavy punk rock numbers in the form of Melba and Beating My Head Against a Wall before Rosenstock retreats back into himself with a beautiful Springsteen-esque ballad 9/10, a song where he also manages to shows off some nice delicate guitar flourishes. The album then climaxes with the anthemic and perhaps most political song on the record Let Them Win. With lyrics such as “they can kick us in the knees, they can push us in the trees again” this song rages at the political climate in America but ends with an optimistic tone, especially with the rousing lyric “we’re not gonna let them win, oh no.” This track was a great way to end what was quite a ferocious album lyrically and indeed musically.

With WORRY, and now POST-, which incidentally was dropped on New Years Day, Jeff Rosenstock is gradually getting the attention that has perhaps deserted him in his career to this point. He does play on this image of being outside the music industry and being the archetypal independent musician, but as his popularity grows it will be interesting to see whether he battles this or becomes closer to an industry he has long derided. Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure, Jeff Rosenstock is not going anywhere, and with albums as good as this one will help continue to remind people that rock is far from dead. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Sam Smith