By Alisa Pierce
Artist: Jeff Rosenstock
Release Date: October 14th, 2016
Jeff Rosenstock is a punk and ska-band veteran, boasting membership in bands such as Mustard Pig, The Bruce Lee Band and Andrew Jackson Jihad. Rosenstock also founded the independent record label Quote Unquote Records, the vinyl-focused label Really Records, and has worked with multiple artists such as Mikey Erg, The Smith Street Band, Laura Stevenson and Dan Adriano. With so much going on, it’s hard to imagine that Rosenstock had enough time to create a new album for himself, but the music industry is so glad that he did.
WORRY. is positively gloomy, and I mean that in the most literal way possible. Despite the album sticking to a punk and ska sound, and containing impassioned lyrics ranging from exasperated to desperate, the cover art for the album is a picture of Rosenstock at his wedding last year. It was a smart choice for the album, as WORRY. maintains a positive attitude despite being an intense and angry listen. Rosenstock focuses heavily on bass-driven music with strong drum beats, which makes it catchy and perfect to scream along with. Rosenstock is also an excellent song-writer, and the songs on his new album flawlessly present his attitude towards the world (which is quite hopeless) while maintaining a beat that makes anyone listening want to sing along. The tone of the album is positive, but the themes in WORRY. express distaste for internet culture, mistrust America’s broken judicial system and discomfort in his environment.
This is evident in songs such as “To Be A Ghost…” and “The Fuzz”, which drew inspiration in part from the recent and devastating events of young black men being killed by police for small slights or crimes, and how the internet and meme culture can cause a feeling of dread to sink into your psyche. Likewise, “Staring Out The Window Of Your Old Apartment”, “Bang On the Door” and “HELLLLHOOOOLE” demonstrate Rosenstock’s feelings of hate towards terrible landlords, shabby apartments and/or the New York City area in general. This gives the album a broad spectrum of topics that a multitude of listeners can identify with.
Despite the album focusing on such heavy topics, Rosenstock doesn’t forget to break for cheesy and romantic songs every now and then. “Pash Rash” is a romantic song in which Rosenstock sings, “I want to listen to the Cribs, my dear/ While we make out in your car,” before desperately begging to see his love’s face again in person, instead of only seeing her “through AMOLED displays” on his cellphone. Rosenstock’s love for his partner and his disdain and distrust of technology are evident in “Blast Damage Days”, as he sings, “These are the Amazon days/ We are the binge-watching age/ And we’ll be stuck in a screen until our phones fall asleep/ Oh, I am never letting go of you.”
It can be an overwhelming listen to have the album bounce from theme to theme so quickly, but the album reveals Rosenstock’s personality completely. WORRY. is as charming and unique as Rosenstock himself.