Jeff Rosenstock surprised the music community by dropping his third full length solo LP on New Year’s Day 2018. An indie punk record about aging in the era of Trump, “POST-” places itself as a well added expansion to the artist’s discography by displaying his songwriting chops front and center.
Following up 2016’s “WORRY”, “POST-” is a complementary dive into the ideas of aging through one’s own environment and psyche. It’s a record that is covered in similar production and songwriting, however Rosenstock goes the extra step by crafting one the best examples of present day political punk rock commentary.
The 10 song track list contains a real tightness to it that in some ways is an improvement from its predecessor. While his previous record featured a multi-track composition holding its second half (with comparison to The Beatles’ “Abbey Road”), “POST-” glides through its songs with sharpness and precision. While the record never seems to truly experiment with the genre in ways different from before, it does instead opt more to deliver on a core concept.
Compositionally, the record plays with what essentially can be described as a condensed version of the elements present on “WORRY” as Rosenstock makes an effort to utilize fluffy, static, synths and tight rhythm sections in way that comes together well enough behind his vocals. Even though the mixing can dabble into questionable territory (ex: the vocals on ‘Powerlessness’), the compositions help serve as the secret butter that carry these tracks forward in the manner it does so well.
Tackling the American political climate through the dejected sentiments of anti-US philosophy, the song ‘USA’ is a clear and grounded example of how to write a good anti-Trump song that conveys both genuine sentimentality and true wit. It’s a fitting opener to the record that is concerned less with mocking the President and the press surrounding him, but rather express the disdain that is felt by his opposition and why they feel the way they do.
As well, the record never shies away from combining topicality and introspection as Rosenstock continues to reflect on the notion of aging and self-healing. The track ‘Yr Throat’ is an interesting example of this as it not only serves as a subtle political jab but as well as a statement on personal speech and the real (or nonexistent) repercussions. The track is well executed and places Rosenstock’s strengths frontward, combining his ability to create memorable hooks while also having something to say.
While the record offers little to chew on in terms of style, it does offer enough substance to keep it entertaining. Songs like ‘All This Useless Energy’ and ‘Powerlessness’ nicely move the flow of the record by expanding on its concepts like a train confidently steering ahead with little hesitation present. Even though the following ‘TV Stars’ feels slightly out of place, it works fine within the context of the record and succeeds at bringing back more of that political aspect into the album. Concluding the middle section is ‘Melba’, a track that feels right at home in Rosenstock’s greater repertoire, almost like something off of his solo debut “We Cool?”.
Finally, while ‘Beating my Head Against a Wall’ and ‘Let Them Win’ do retread on previous territory, the synth dominated ‘9/10’ serves as one of Rosenstock’s brightest moments as he steps back into the more introspective angle of the record and helps further paint that disillusionment and disappointment with not just getting older, but of life in general.
STARTING OFF RIGHT…
Even though the record does contain weaker moments than others, as a package “POST-” remains a great entry in Rosenstock’s career. By setting an example of how topical music can be done well in the present day while maintaining the energy and songwriting that he’s otherwise established for himself, Rosenstock has crafted a fine piece of art that gets the year off to a great start.