Jeff Rosenstock is one of the best representations of modern punk right now. It’s amazing how despite all of the previous projects that he’s been a part of like Bomb the Music Industry! and ska punk band The Arrogant Sons of Bitches, his current work is still just as exciting and fresh as ever.
Rosenstock is a renowned DIY legend, and his personal character permeates very well in his latest release NO DREAM which came out in May. This record is completely stacked with ear-candy punk rock that borrows melodic ideas from adjacent genres masterfully. A decidedly fun ride through and through, yet what’s most impressive about this is its abundance of thought provoking lyrics and narratives that will leave you engaged long after the music fades.
What sets apart this album from its predecessors is it’s slew of songs where Rosenstock dips into personal narratives that explores his life as an artist. The propulsive pop-punk opener “NO TIME” finds him reviewing his current situation and looking if this all holds up: “Did you turn into a person that you really want to be?” “I didn’t have the time”, he adds cheekily. “Nikes (Alt)” inspects his life choices in a world that’s slowly turning to chaos, where one is forced to chase pleasures to escape the increasingly consuming dread. “Chasing bliss is only numbing it”, he sings. The narrator is conflicted by this hypocrisy but also aware that it’s not an easy choice to make.
The title track is by far the most politically charged cut in this album, which captures the current concerns of American citizens. It covers the reality of police brutality, problems with the immigration policy and the government’s choices which are basically “Weaponizing what’s left of your empathy”. The song ends in a tumultuous dystopian romp.“It’s not a dream!”, Rosenstock yells to the crowd. Lost in a sea of televised chaos.
Other cuts like “Leave It in the Sun” show a more vulnerable side of Rosenstock as he cuts off the strings in a relationship that’s been slowly fading away. “The hardest part of growing up is letting go”, he sings, accompanied by sunny Beach Boys harmonies and bright riffs. “The Beauty of Breathing” transitions smoothly with the same radiant vibe, but here Rosenstock slyly slams meditation techniques as he finds it severely ineffective at fighting his anxieties and sadness.
NO DREAM is an album that I would give the “no pee-break” award to. There is no dull song in this 13-track collection, and each cut transitions pretty well to the next. If it were played live from start to finish, you’d see me at the moshpit the whole time. And I’d hope to see you there too.