Music This Week: Politically Charged

Written by Pallabi Munsi | Updated: January 6, 2018 12:46 am POST-, JEFF ROSENSTOCK, Quote Unquote Records/poly vinyl

Over the last one year, many American artists have been trying to make sense of the toxic sociopolitical landscape but very few have been able to analyse it better than Jeff Rosenstock, whose previous album WORRY. dropped a week before the results of the 2016 US Presidential elections.

The results declared on November 8, 2016, may have hit like an isolated, cataclysmic incident but it is increasingly appearing to be the logical endpoint of the American experiment — resulting in economic and cultural panic. Rosenstock’s breakthrough solo album WORRY. tackled all of it with frenzied eloquence. To paraphrase his famous Wave Goodnight To Me, when it all came into focus — insistent police brutality, urban displacement, the bursting of the music festival bubble, Reddit’s sociopathic influence—Rosenstock was ready for it, the rare artist who managed to be both prescient and timely in 2017.

Reportedly, the former Bomb the Music Industry! frontman wrote POST-., the follow-up to 2016’s WORRY., after the 2017 Presidential inauguration while holed up in a double-wide trailer in the Catskill Mountain town of East Durham, New York. The majority of the LP was recorded during an 86-hour marathon session toward the end of 2017 at the Atomic Garden in East Palo Alta, California with Jack Shirley (Joyce Manor, Deafheaven). Some additional recording was done at Quote Unquote Records in Brooklyn, New York.

Hours after a cathartic New Year’s Eve show in Philadelphia, Rosenstock surprise-released his third solo album POST-., which asks a million dollar question: Can Rosenstock’s musical and political passion withstand expectations now that
the inconceivable is his new normal?

True to its title, the album takes stock of what happens after the shock subsides and a more unsettling fear arise s— a world where a steady buzz of dull outrage becomes our emotional baseline. Yr Throat and Powerlessness touch on how invigorating it feels to finally be heard, the moments of genuine hope in seeing us finding common ground. But those songs are only briefly about hope; they’re mostly stewed in the pervasive, underlying doubt about whether any of it is sustainable or whether America is worth saving in the first place.

“I called it positivity and congratulated myself on a job well done/But after a couple of days the fire that I thought would burn it down was gone,” he sings in Powerlessness, a painfully relatable self-flagellation. How much can one give of themselves before it becomes necessary to fall back on the things that bring you mindless joy? Is it so wrong to lose yourself in “first-person shooter games/Guitar tones, ELO arrangements/The differences in an MP3 and a vinyl record that you can hear?”

POST-. definitely holds the lyrical spirit and musical qualities of a sequel, however, it expands in directions which WORRY. did not. Through a great emphasis placed musically on the origins of pop punk, as well as experimenting beyond this to add a wider array of instruments, Rosenstock has created a similar yet distinctly different sound.

He has experimented with his sound far more than his previous two records, offering a further exploration into his melancholic side musically. Using the likes of synths and piano, he has created a sound away from simple punk across many tracks. However, for the pop-punk faithful, he offers a throwback to (whilst maintaining a fresh sound through production) the 1970s.

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