Album Review: Jeff Rosenstock – We Cool?

Few artists have been both as prolific and so eclectic over the last 10-15 years as Long Island’s Jeff Rosenstock. From his work with The Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Bomb The Music Industry! to his more recent solo output and collaborations with Fake Problems’ Chris Farren (under the name Antarctigo Vespucci), Rosenstock’s varied career has always remained fiercely inclusive and DIY-focused. And all of it is in evidence on the sprawling, idiosyncratic and charming ‘We Cool?’

The result is an album which has the focus of a social butterfly but ultimately wins you over through sheer likeability. It also proves, on the whole, that Rosenstock can turn his hand to a wide variety of genres with great success.

‘You in Weird Cities’ is, for the most part, a frantic, neurotic, punk’n’roll blast while ‘Nausea’ is a twisted piano ballad in the vain of Ben Folds or Jukebox The Ghost. That it’s one of ‘We Cool?’s outstanding moments perhaps shows just what an enigma Rosenstock is. Elsewhere, the alt-pop ‘Hall of Fame’ is a down the line, foot-tapping triumph, while the bar-room blues of ‘Beers Again Alone’ is the sort of rabble-rousing call to arms that is sure to be a blast live.

But, just when you think you know what Rosenstock’s about, he throws you a curveball. ‘I’m Serious, I’m Sorry’ is a personal lament that sounds like a scattergun thought process set to music. Initially, I thought it seemed somewhat out of place, but when you consider just how different it is compared to the glorious ‘Polar Bear or Africa’ or jaunty ‘Darkness Records’ it shows just how talented Rosentstock is as a songwriter.

Overall, Rosenstock has delivered a record that is fun to listen to, brilliantly written and musically eclectic. Perhaps even more significantly, it’s also an album that pays homage to his many musical personalities but never feels forced or contrived. Of course, it makes the notion of putting ‘We Cool?’ into some sort of genre specific box totally redundant – but it also means even someone with the smallest of interest in punk or alternative rock can find something to enjoy in an album that is as inclusive as its artist.

4/5

‘We Cool?’ by Jeff Rosenstock is released on 3rd March on SideOneDummy.

Jeff Rosenstock links:
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Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair)

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