Jeff Rosenstock’s Album ‘Post-’ Is The Anthemic Message Of Hope We Need To Start 2018 Off Right

Senior Music Writer
01.10.18

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“We’re not gonna let them wiiiiiiiiiin / F*ck NOOOOOoooooooo!” That’s the valiant battle cry of hope punk rock hero Jeff Rosenstock leaves ringing in your ears at the end of his incredible, new album Post-. Rosenstock dropped his latest work, on the very first day of 2018, and as you pore through all nine — the first track is a five-second spoken word intro — of these defiant, angst-y, and wondrously hook-filled songs, the genius of the move becomes evident. Post- is a savage throat-clearing. A shaking off of the dogmas of a year that brought defeats, and misery, and bewilderment on a near-constant basis. 2017 was a bummer he allows. 2018 could be better if we try.

If Rosenstock’s last album Worry bottled some of the anxiety and tension that permeated the American psyche throughout 2016, Post- is a coming to grips with the fallout of the country’s decision to elect a self-serving “TV Star” to the highest office in the land. The opening track “USA” almost feels like a sonically-rendered, emotional microcosm of the night Trump got elected. First comes the bewilderment and anger. Slashing guitars, heaving drums, and the inescapable feeling that the “house burned down to the mother*cking ground!” eventually give way to an almost fugue state of feedback and sparse synth melodies as the reality of what just happened sinks in. Just as in life, however, the miasma is temporary; complaints turn into rage-fueled calls to action. Years later, when people ask me what that awful night felt like, I’d just as soon refer them to this sprawling, seven-minute piece of music.

Post- isn’t a Trump album, however. It’s more a “what are we going to do about Trump” album. Throughout the course of the record, you get the sense of a person coming to grips with what happened to their country, while also trying to figure out what they, a single human being, can do to turn the ship around. On “All This Useless Energy,” “Beating My Head Against The Wall” he crystallizes the feeling of crushing futility we all experience in the face of forces so much larger than ourselves. On “Yr Throat” and “Powerlessness” the galvanizing discovery that your voice is a weapon. On the final track “Let Them Win,” he argues that when you combine your voice with others, you can stare down malevolence and make it blink — and the shift away from “I” and “you” pronouns that dominate Post- into the more inclusive “We” is important.

As a dyed-in-the-wool DIY-er, Rosenstock is a vital avatar to drive this important message home. He’s the kind of artist who avoids the kumbaya, hokum vibe that permeates more contrived musical offerings because he genuinely lives this shit. He innately understands the power of the collective “We” and seems eager to bring others into the tent. It makes me remember the first time I had the pleasure of catching him live this last summer, during his now infamous early-afternoon set at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. Rosenstock hit the stage just before 2 PM on the second day and proceeded to subvert his very presence with a joyous abandon. Even more incredibly, he made us all willing and enthusiastic participants on the joke.

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