Jeff Rosenstock-Worry

A review of an honest album filled with shouting, distress and glimpses of synthesizing patterns

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Jeff Rosenstock is a goon. He drinks forties with his friends and smashes the bottles and never gets to work on time. He is a slacker’s greatest hero and he makes great music. Rosenstock follows up on his last work We Cool? (an excellent indie/punk rock record) with Worry, an album in which Rosenstock wheels through the various incarnations of punk rock and works through his own trauma, baggage and fear.

The front half of the album demonstrates some real expertise in the discipline of pop punk. “Wave Goodnight” is an especially exemplary track, having all of the sentimental energy and shout-y choral sing-along of, say, a Blink-182 song. But what sets Rosenstock apart from the rest of his competitors is his lyricism and his presence on the album. All of his songs are very dense and stacked to the brim. Sometimes when he is singing, it just sounds like Rosenstock cannot keep up with his own thoughts and he ends up tripping on his teeth and then shouting about it. He sings about the messed up things he has done and seen and he does so very well, with great imagery and sad little hooks. It is endearing the amount of honesty he is channeled into the album.

The second half of the record becomes a sort of punk montage consisting of eleven songs (or vignettes or movements) in nineteen minutes, each song slipping into the next one, forming one enormous protean anthem. Within that nineteen-minute stretch there are some very real standouts such as the pretty punk waltz “Blast Damage Days,” the coherent and kicking “I Did Something Weird Last Night” and “Rainbow,” a ska-punk imitation. If there is one song to certainly pay attention to I would suggest “Blast Damage Days;” it is incredibly rich, full of electric fuzz and feedback and aggressive melody. As mentioned before, it is a punk waltz, which is sometimes a cheesy thing to attempt, but very successfully done. Rosenstock’s sonic smorgasbord reminds me of the Clash’s attempts at the punk catalog. Unlike the Clash’s Sandinista! (the behemoth thirty-six song triple album), Worry is a digestible and rational attempt at a bouquet of punk sound, however nobody beats the Clash.

The album as a whole is very cogent. It all makes sense and it all sounds like Rosenstock and there is never a moment where the album tries to be something it’s not. It is very humble and honest and real, which is commendable. Nothing on the album is untouchable or sacred, it is all there for you to interact with, in whatever pitiful way you choose. Let us take a look at what this album has: shouting, distrust of technology, adult uncertainty, alcohol-induced regret, fear for the future, head-smashing anxiety, pitiful masculinity, the occasional horn blast, less than subtle weltschmerz all around. This album is one for the real young adult, failing and scared. Plenty of us, I imagine.

In all sincerity, it is a really great album. There is so much I enjoy about it and I am a little giddy about it, so much so that I cannot very well punctualize my enthusiasm for the record. It is got everything a good emo album needs, like shouting and distress and cute little synthesizer patterns and the sad blinks of a wurlitzer or a xylophone or whatever malleted instrument he’s swatting at. It is not even a real emo album but there is so much there for you that it can be whatever you want it to be. It can be an album of defeat or victory, regret or congratulations. It all depends on you, whoever you are.

Subjectively best tracks: “I Did Something Weird Last Night,” “Blast Damage Days,” “Festival Song,” “Hellllhoooole.”

 

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