Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM
May 20, 2020
86
How is it that the most mature progression of Jeff's songwriting resulted in a step back style wise? This is some of the rawest, punkiest shit that Rosenstock's put out in his solo career since I Look Like Shit, in a way that really highlights the complexities and nuance of his GREAT songwriting. There are so many little surprises across this album that completely derailed my expectations. Left turns within the songs themselves, but also in the pacing of the album (seriously, who wasn't shocked by ***BNB the second it started? That song is power pop bliss).

There are songs that I'm not particularly crazy about, yet I wouldn't trade a single one of them due to how well they service the record. The pacing is just perfect; I've already listened in full three times today and it's just a delightful journey each time. The only stretch of the album I'm not in love with is State Line and f a m e back-to-back, but my excitement is QUICKLY restored by Leave It In The Sun.

This is an interesting album lyrically for Jeff, where it feels like everything is even more bluntly stated than on previous records (sure, he's always been somewhat of a frank speaker, but it truly feels hyper direct here). He also relies on some pop-punk tropes in the songwriting that I've never seen him do before, from the double-kick breakdown in Scram! to the absolutely cheeseball lyrics in the very sweet Honeymoon Ashtray (it doesn't get more 2003 warped tour than the lyric "We Ate Pizza Under Moonlight").

The instrumentation choices on this album are just sublime. It honestly may be my favorite production on a Jeff Rosenstock album, where each section is really full of surprises. The most powerful instance of this is the stretch from Leave It In The Sun to Monday At The Beach. The transition between LIITS and Beauty of Breathing is so immediately exciting, providing a 1-2 punch of peak Jeff without any time to breathe. Old Crap is a classic acoustic-ballad-turned-banger that Rosenstock has proven excels at, and the transition into ***BNB actually made me cackle (isn't ***BNB a perfect Fountains of Wayne song?). Then, the false ending only to be repeated in the intro of Monday at the Beach is just a blast.

I'm just impressed. I remember hearing Beauty of Breathing near the start of last year and wasn't entirely impressed, but its presentation on this record makes it a standout Jeff track. His repetition of "You're the only one that I wanted to like me" at the end of Ohio Tpke cuts deep, and cements the track as a classic Jeff Rosenstock song, as well as a perfect way to cap the album. This record freaking rocked.

FAVORITE SONGS: NO TIME, Nikes (alt), Scram!, Leave it In The Sun, The Beauty of Breathing, Old Crap, ***BNB, Ohio Tpke

LEAST FAVORITE SONGS: State Line, f a m e
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