Valby Hallen, Copenhagen, DEN - 26/4
Written by: MIN on 31/12/2016 17:50:37
DIY Long Island punk rocker Jeff Rosenstock has, only a year and a half after releasing ”We Cool?”, returned with his second solo full-length, “Worry.”. Just like “We Cool?”, “Worry.” sees Rosenstock deviate from the traditional ‘punk frontman-gone-solo’ tradition of an acoustic guitar and hoarse vocal deliveries, and actually push his own boundaries even further. Musically, “Worry.” is such a rollercoaster that it might take a little getting used to, but once it’s grown under your skin, you’ll find yourself screaming along to every word.
The first half of the album follows a pretty standard ‘track one, track two, et cetera’ formula. “We Begged 2 Explode” opens up with Jeff delivering soft words sung to the notes of a piano before bolting off to a grand finale. The next two songs are more energetic throughout, and obviously we also get an obligatory quiet song and a single, such as “Staring Out the Window of Your Old Apartment” and “Wave Goodnight to Me”. But here’s the deal: All of them are pretty damn good. “Festival Song” definitely takes the cake for the best pick among these with crazy and varied guitar notes, thick bass lines, fiddling keyboard-effects and some amazing (and catchy) lyrics. That song, and several others off the album, focus a lot on the increasing problem of banks taking over cheap apartment buildings and leaving the less fortunate out on the streets, giving the verses a nerve and the chorus line, ”They wouldn’t be your friend if you weren’t worth something”, extra punch.
Enter side b — the second half of the album; this is where Jeff Rosenstock, artistically, lifts himself above so many of the bands that he and his previous collectives (Bomb the Music Industry! and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches) inspired. Once “Blast Damage Days” finishes, it bursts wide open into the energetic and highly paranoid “Bang on the Door”, and from here Jeff and the band venture into unfamiliar territory that tread on such legendary compositions such as “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” and “Abbey Road Medley”. Every song from here until the end of the album is somehow connected despite the various styles, tempos and genres put on display. The songs offer ska, hardcore punk, pop punk, power pop and alternative rock on a platter, while keeping to a red thread and resulting in one of this year’s most exhilarating and exciting listens.
Although all of the songs are great, there are those that work better than others. “To Be a Ghost…” focuses on and criticizes the self-loathing that the internet community’s comments and memes might cause the individual person, and although it’s a vital subject, the execution is lackluster. Rosenstock has always been good at delivering stellar lyrics, but here it feels like he fleshes out what could’ve been told with fewer words. Even though the lyrics ”[...] I’m tired of circling amongst apologists who love ignoring the reality of unarmed civilians executed publicly” and ”Hate’s not a fad that dies with its virality" adds a new meaning to the song, lines like ”[...] no one will listen up until you become a hashtag or a meme” feel too forced and cringe worthy. By the end of the song the music takes off for a climax, but when compared to some of the emotionally heavy or musically layered endings to such songs as “Syke! Life is Awesome!” or “Future 86” from Rosenstock's past, it quickly pales.
But that’s about it. It’s the only ‘slight’ (if you can even call it that) worth mentioning on an album full of excellent material. If I were to pick a choice cut, it’d probably have to be the magnificent “I Did Something Weird Last Night”, as it’s both musically entertaining and lyrically clever, focusing on the awkwardness that might appear during the first few dates of a relationship. It perfectly captures the image of insecurity, longing and hope while also raising the question: ”Is there someone thinking of me when I’m feeling alone?” By the end of the song, Rosenstock strikes gold as he transforms the track’s middle-section and its crunching riff into a playful guitar that twists and turns around the words: ”Fuck, oh I did something weird last night // I made out in the van with a girl I like // We were kinda drunk, but it felt alright // So we made out for the entire ride”.
On “Worry.”, you can tell that Jeff Rosenstock has gotten older. He’s gotten married and is settling into the good life. And although they’re still there, the album offers fewer songs about awkward love. Instead, he chooses to focus on other problems: Social media, inequality, war and capitalism to name a few. Rosenstock has never been narrow in his lyricism, but it feels like he aims wider this time around, and the fact that he does so successfully only speaks in favor of his abilities. One thing is to keep making good albums; another is to make an album that exceeds expectations and breaks one’s artistic boundaries. But that is just what Jeff Rosenstock has done on “Worry.”. If you had any fears that wedding bells would lead Jeff astray, (bad joke incoming) you don’t have to worry — Jeff is just as imperfectly perfect as he’s ever been.
Download: Festival Song, I Did Something Weird Last Night, Bang on the Door, The Fuzz
For the fans of: Laura Stevenson, Chris Farren, Bomb the Music Industry!, The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, Weezer
Release date 14.10.2016