36vultures

Review: Jeff Rosenstock, ‘We Cool’

Written By: Joel Funk Edited By: Caitlin Kohn

Jeff Rosenstock is all over the place, all of the time. A quick google search of the man’s name will bring up a slew of bands that he’s been a part of and that you’ve probably loved. Everywhere. All the time. This man has touched more sub-genres of punk than I can accurately name, and has somehow been fortunate enough to have each of these projects turn out incredibly. I’m sure you’ve heard of acts like Andrew Jackson Jihad, Bomb The Music Industry, and most recently Antarctigo Vespucci. If you have, you must certainly agree with that previous sentiment. I will say this just once more in this first paragraph. Jeff Rosenstock is everywhere, all the time.

Beyond having a hand in his never-ending arsenal of projects, Rosenstock still manages to find time to release solo records. I was introduced to his solo stuff for the first time late last year when I first heard “Hey Allison.” I’m late to this game, I know. I’m sorry, but I’m here now, so that should count for something. I remember just loving how abrasive it felt while still being incredibly catchy and melodic. That was the seed that planted a slow bloom of of love for Rosenstock in my brain.

That bloom would go into hyperdrive when I heard the first official single from his new album ‘We Cool.’ “Nausea” was full of quirks. A piano and Rosenstock’s booming vocals that somehow manage to perfectly capture the feeling of anxiety get that track started, and that’s what made them feel right at home in my rotation. This man knows how to portray real emotion, and as if the vocal delivery wasn’t enough, that huge chorus comes at you like a net shot from a gun. To be blunt, it’s going to hold you captive.

That was just the single. When I got to press play on ‘We Cool’ in full for the first time, that seed had germinated was alive and well. Hell, it was self-sustained and in full bloom. The first track on the album sets the tone for not only the rest of the album, but for the rest of your life if you’re aging in any scene. As much as I don’t want to just copy and paste lyrics, this track is just begging me to. “When you’re friends are buying starter homes with their accomplishments/drinking at a house show can feel childish and embarrassing/people glaring because despite what the advertisement says/malt liquor doesn’t make you young” should perfectly encapsulate how it feels to no longer be a teenager at a house show, or any show for that matter. But it does end on with the strangely comforting “we all get old together/and we all get old forever.” So at least there’s that.

Right after that is “You In Weird Cities.” This was released as the second single for the album, and it’s hard to argue with. This song is fun to listen to, and like the rest of this record, makes me pine for Tony Hawk video game soundtracks. But this feels so much bigger than that. If punk ever had a real shot at mainstream inclusion, the two songs to make it happen would be “You In Weird Cities” and “Fall Back Down” by Rancid. That’s because beyond being killer punk rock songs, they’re just killer songs. They just bleed humanity, and it’s incredible to listen to. In case it’s not yet clear, I love this goddamn song.

Another real gem from the first half of this record is “I’m Serious, I’m Sorry.” The storytelling on this track is incredible, and the fact that this track gets explosive and cathartic right around the 30 second mark only adds to that. I know that I’ve already touched on Rosenstock’s ability to emote and I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s truly at it’s height here. You can’t help but feel overcome by any and every emotion that he felt while singing this song. And that’s incredible.

Some more highlights from this incredible record include “Hey Allison,” “Hall of Fame,” and “The Lows.” These tracks have all garnered affection for the same reason. Rosenstock can write just as well as he performs. I’m serious when I say that I want to start our own version of Storytellers and get that ball rolling with Rosenstock, because this record is more than deserving of that kind of attention.

Jeff Rosenstock is everywhere, and I don’t see any plans of slowing down on his end. His newest solo record, ‘We Cool,’ is some of his best work to date. His storytelling and performances are at an all time high, and every track on the record delivers. It’s been a while since I can say that listening to something has strictly been fun before diving into it. There’s something about this release that just feels youthful and so full of life that you just can’t help but to be caught up in it. I love this record, and I’m going to be taking a pretty extensive look at his back catalog in the near future. So to answer your question, Jeff, yeah, we’re pretty fucking cool. 5/5