Jeff Rosenstock - POST- (Cover Artwork)

Jeff Rosenstock

POST- (2018)


I’ve made it no secret that I hold Jeff Rosenstock’s discography in incredibly high regard. Because of this, I've found that I’m reluctant to promptly accept any new addition to it. There’s somewhat of a hostility interlaced with my excitement for each subsequent release, as the prospect of Rosenstock soiling his perfect record is always lingering in the back of my mind. Mix that with a self-consciousness that my intense idolization of his work will one day make me a mindless supporter of whatever he puts out, and POST- was fighting an uphill battle from the start.

But, a few dozen listens later, and I can comfortably say that he’s done it again. Following the work of Jeff Rosenstock has become, more or less, a surreal experience, as the consistency with which he’s been able to churn out instant classics is truly astonishing. The man is a masterpiece machine, and the visionary forefront of the pop punk indie fusion dominating the SideOneDummy roster (despite the fact that he’s recently severed ties with the label).

I was first introduced to Jeff Rosenstock with his 2015 breakout, We Cool?. Less than a year later he had already announced it’s follow-up, Worry., which, much like its predecessor, received mass praise from fans and critics alike. But, of his solo records, POST-, seems to bear the most resemblance Jeff’s crucially underappreciated debut, I Look Like Shit. It almost feels out of place in the trajectory of his discography, sounding more sonically situated between Vacation and his shift to solo material.

Part of this can be attributed to POST-’s noticeable drop in fidelity. While, at this point in his career, Rosenstock most likely has nearly every possible productional accessory at his disposal, and producer, Jack Shirley, has shown to be incredibly skilled in his trade, there seems to be an intentional shift towards making this thing feel less refined, and more organic. I actually find this to be a refreshing divergence from the Worry.’s insistence on polishing every executional error, to the point where the imperfections of Jeff’s vocal deliveries and feedback-ridden instrumentals began to lose their raw bight.

POST- also masks its temporal domain, with its application of electronic instrumentation. Sure, Jeff has been no stranger to midi on his past couple of projects, but it's typically been implemented more subtly: rarely taking center stage, aside from the soft synth introduction to “Pietro, 60 Years Old” or the reversed chiptune foundation of “All Blissed Out”. POST-, on the other hand, embraces multiple extensive passages of beautiful synth soundscapes: namely during the opening and closing tracks. These songs, independent of these excerpts, happen to be two of my favorites on the project.

“USA” is the most instantly exhilarating opening to one of one of Jeff’s projects since “Old and Unprofessional,” hardly wasting a single phrase before bursting into vibrant vitality. It’s a propulsive, upbeat pop punk banger, that demonstrates a renewed sense of artistic versatility.

The closer, “Let Them Win” is a monumental anthem, culminating in an ambient synth arrangement. This passage itself feels somewhat unnecessary, given conclusivity of Jeff’s faint acoustic delivery of the final reprisal, but it’s pleasant enough to not feel awkwardly tacked on.

Aside from these two goliaths, “Powerlessness” and “9/10” both stand out as POST-’s prime singles. Each is truly unlike anything else Rosenstock has put out. “Powerlessness” seems destined to become a staple of live shows, with its peppy energy and sing-along chorus. “9/10,” on the other hand, has been a bit more divisive for me. I’ve gone back and forth on this one, but ultimately I’ve found myself enjoying it more often than not. There’s some real interesting ideas being put forth here.; it’s a new take on a vaguely dub inspired blueprint, and I love the spastic, glitchy guitars that cut through the chorus.

There’s not really a single track that sticks out in a negative way, though a few feel comparatively weaker. “TV Stars,” for example, is a fine song on its own, but comes off as rather formulaic with the context provided by Worry.. There’s not much about “TV Stars” that stands out amongst superior ballads, such as “Staring Out the Window at Your Old Apartment”. I share similar sentiments on “Melba”: it’s a great song, but boilerplate when stacked up against other mid tempo powerpop cuts like “Wave Goodnight to Me” or “June 21st,” though I do like how seamlessly “Melba” flows into “Beating My Head Against A Wall”.

Ultimately, I’ve warmed up to POST- as a worthy addition to Jeff’s discography, but it’s not without its flaws. Though I wouldn’t show this to a friend to introduce them to his work, I can see quite a few of these tracks remaining in rotation for years to come.