Written by: Owen Murray; Photo by: Jeff Rosenstock
Jeff Rosenstock released POST- on New Year’s Day after an utterly exhausting 2017. The American public was bombarded by wild and dangerous tweets from the president himself, Nazis rioted in Charlottesville, and the threat of nuclear war loomed constantly over our heads. Protest songs flooded the airways and the internet to a point of saturation. These are turbulent times.
Luckily, Jeff knows just how we feel. It is hard not to be instantly drawn in by the slew of adjectives on “USA”, Post’s epic opening cut. “Dumbfounded, downtrodden, and dejected/crest-fallen, grief stricken and exhausted” he shouts, perfectly capturing the sentiment of the restless and confused American masses.
POST- isn’t quite a protest album as much as it is an expression of disbelief in the chaos of the year’s events. Rosenstock isn’t angry, as much as he is beaten up and at a loss for words. This wide range of emotions is easier to relate to and empathize with than a protest album which would expect relentless, unfailing anger and resistance to the current state of affairs. Jeff has more realistic expectations.
Sonically, POST- doesn’t differ too significantly from its predecessor, 2016’s WORRY. Rosenstock delivers energized punk/garage rock songs only this time they are more about how tired, helpless, and bored he is than ever before. While WORRY. got its greatness from 8 of its 17 cuts being under two minutes, POST- features more ambitious anthems. Two of the albums 10 tracks are well past the seven-minute mark and are just as energized and far more epic than any minute-and-a-half banger from Worry.
The penultimate “9/10” is an exception to the album’s otherwise very high energy tone. The heartfelt duet tells a typical story of love, loss, and longing. However, just as the chorus “TV Stars”,“ TV Stars don’t care about who you are” could be referring to the indifference of TV stars in general or referring to one specific TV star who has gained a lot of attention, power, and criticism over the past year, the mourning in “9/10” could just as likely be for the loss of direction and security that has taken place over 2017 as it could be for the voices’ loss of each other.
The bulk of POST- doubles as personal and political. Given the current political climate, many Americans can easily empathize with the feelings and emotions Jeff expresses. However, it is only on the album’s opener and finale that Jeff actually tries to speak for the masses. Throughout the record, he expresses the personal sentiment that is similar to the opener’s refrain, “We’re tired and bored”. By the end of the record though, Jeff comes full circle. “Let Them Win” is one part boneheaded chanting, and 99 parts the rallying cry the tired, bored, and desensitized masses need. No matter how tired and bored we all are and how much the state of the nation makes us want to bang our heads against the wall, there is no way we will ever let them win again.