Artist: Jeff Rosenstock
Genre: Pop Punk
Released: 14 October 2016
"And it's not like the love that they showed us on T.V
It's a home that can burn
It's a limb to freeze
Love is worry"
There’s some music that instantly resonates with you. It’s an exciting feeling; knowing you’re about to fall in love with everything an artist has made even after only hearing the smallest amount of their music. You’ll most likely remember exactly how you came to hear their music, and where you were when you first heard them. It’s like love at first sight. The very first time I heard Jeff Rosenstock was around 1 in the morning, and I was spending my night almost passed out drunk on a train desperately trying not to throw up. And I think that was a pretty fitting introduction to his music. My friend had sent me a link to Jeff’s 2015 album “We Cool?”, and like I said, it was love at first sight. Very shortly after that extremely rough night I listened to his follow-up record, “WORRY.”, which quickly became one of my favourite albums of all time.
Jeff Rosenstock’s songwriting ability is nothing short of outstanding. And you’ll know this if you’ve followed any of his previous musical projects, most notably the incredible “Bomb the Music Industry!”, which disbanded only a year before his transition into solo work. But I think it was this very transition that allowed him to delve into creating more personal music, which is one of the main things that makes both “We Cool?” and “WORRY.” so excellent. He has a brilliant ability to combine humour and wit with much heavier topics, such as his struggles with mental health. And in particular it’s “WORRY.” that shows Jeff at his most vulnerable, focusing on the overarching theme of constant, crippling anxiety.
The album’s opener, ‘We Begged 2 Explode’, perfectly introduces this as Jeff discusses his sense of fragility and uncertainty for the future: a fear that in the coming years he’ll grow apart from his closest friends as life gradually becomes too busy.
“Laura said to me:
‘This decade's gonna be fucked
Friends will disappear after they fall in love and get married’
Isn't that shit like, crazy?”
It’s an emotionally poignant start to the album, and is also relatively calm and collected during its opening minutes. But by the end of the track, it sounds almost as if Jeff is screaming the lyrics in pain. This juxtaposition is something found the whole way through “WORRY.”, especially in its second half, and complements the album’s themes of instability and unease perfectly. Another example of this is in the track ‘I Did Something Weird Last Night’, where Jeff spirals into a loop of anxious thoughts after drunkenly making out with the girl he likes the night before. Even though it sounds as if it was a mostly positive experience, he is quick to second-guess himself and immediately assume she doesn’t feel the same way about him (She’s now his wife, so he must have done something right). This is also the last song that plays before the second half of the album. And holy shit, what an incredible second half it is.
All the anxious tension that’s developed throughout “WORRY.” has been building up to its explosive Abbey-Road-esque medley section, which stretches from ‘Blast Damage Days’ to the end of the album. Each song shifts erratically between styles and themes, creating an absolutely exhausting and manic experience which lends itself perfectly to the album’s core concept. Each track feels intrusive to the last, as if Jeff can hardly take a second to rest amongst the constant barrage of anxiety inducing thoughts.
Apart from working brilliantly as a medley section, this second half also has some of the best songs on the entire album. The final three tracks in particular are some of WORRY.’s standout moments, with ‘…While You’re Alive’ being one of the best songs on the entire album. And the fact that most of these tracks work so well, both in and out of context of the rest of the medley section, is a testament to how well they’re written.
The very last song on the album, ‘Perfect Sound Whatever’, is also the name of British comedian James Acaster’s 2019 memoir. In this book he pays tribute to 2016 as ‘the greatest year for music of all time’, and on top of this names “WORRY.” as his favourite album of the year. I’m inclined to agree with him. If you’re a fan of James Acaster I would highly recommend checking this book out (as well as WORRY.), as it’s basically your bible for albums released in 2016.
"Next time I see you
I'll find better words than I'm sorry
Perfect always takes so long because it don't exist
It doesn't exist"
Apart from the endlessly witty and honest lyrics on “WORRY.”, one of the album’s greatest achievements is its incredible production. For years now, Rosenstock has displayed a talent for producing. He’s self-produced all of his own music, as well as collaborated with various others, such as The Smith Street Band on their last few records. And each of these projects could have sounded like absolute messes had it not been for his meticulous ability to balance the chaotic energy of the music with extremely crisp production. This is especially important in the medley half of the album, where it could have been easy to completely lose any sense of musical cohesion. Instead, each song is clearly distinguished from the last while still maintaining the rawness of the music. This is quite simply one of the best flowing albums I have ever heard. And it’s apparent upon first listen that Jeff Rosenstock has made something outstanding here.
“WORRY.” is one of my favourite albums of the last decade. It’s an extremely fun listen, but also does an incredible job of discussing serious themes such as depression and anxiety while sounding honest and genuine. This album alone solidifies Jeff Rosenstock as one of the best songwriter/producers around. And along with his work with “Bomb the Music Industry!” as well as his other solo projects, he’s proved himself as one of the best of all-time. This album is a modern masterpiece, and I simply can’t recommend it enough.
“I rush to my phone
Because I don't wanna feel alone
They forced us to grow
Into a world without a soul”
Reviewed by Layton Bryce - 18/07/20