Jeff Rosenstock’s WORRY. is the follow-up record to 2015’s well-praised, We Cool?. While this previous effort focuses more on his own insecurities, WORRY. takes a step back and examines the world around him, without leaving behind that cathartic, inward-looking perspective listeners have come to love.
While sometimes expressing worry (heh!) about things outside his listeners’ collective field of reference, he manages to package lines into a witty enough envelope to still appeal to them in a visceral way. While outlining the struggle of missing loved ones on tour, Jeff avoids the cliché by yelping “I only wanna come back to see your face… / not borne on beams from outer space through AMOLED displays.” In the very same track, Rosenstock admits that he’s been an active musician for “half [his] years” and this experience reveals itself through his lyrical mastery.
He also takes note of relevant political issues facing America today in many tracks. An early highlight of which is “To Be A Ghost”, where Rosenstock expresses his disdain with the internet and its surplus of “apologists who love ignoring the reality / of unarmed civilians executed publicly.” This is a shout-out of sorts to Black Lives Matter-- of which, he is a vocal proponent.
Another high point is the single, “Wave Goodnight to Me”, which reads like an elegy for New York City. Rosenstock barks “they’re pushing you out in the name of progress / selling your memories to the tourists” expressing his discontent with the ever-present, capitalistic, “they,” taking the city from its people and filling the resulting cavity with gift shops.
This talk about lyrics is not to say that the record falls short melodically or harmonically, in fact, Rosenstock strikes gold in these categories as well. While a far cry from a choirboy, Rosenstock holds nothing back vocally on this record. He proves he’s still got the ear for melody that he’s been flaunting since his Arrogant Sons of Bitches days in the late nineties.
Rosenstock incorporates more musical genres in this singular project than many artists cover in an entire career. Everything from piano-driven power-pop in the opener (“We Begged 2 Explode”) to some almost-too-fast-for-comfort punk cuts (“Bang on the Door” and “Planet Luxury”) to a gang-vocal-ridden, dancey, ska tune (“Rainbow”) will keep you intrigued, and, if you’re like me, dumbfounded as they zoom through your ears in impossible seamlessness.
All in all, Jeff Rosenstock wrote one of the most important records of the year with WORRY. Whether it’s because of its political relevance, infectious melodies, or seamless integration of many styles, I’m not sure. I am sure, however, that I’ll be playing this one on repeat for a long, long time.