There has always been something more behind the music of Jeff Rosenstock. Catchy punk numbers, creative genre mashups, and rapid guitar rhythms merely scratch the surface of what makes Rosenstock’s music special. Behind it all is a strong sense of community. It’s a togetherness that makes every moment feel larger than life as we find ourselves connecting to every ill feeling Jeff is shouting to us and to himself. That’s how one could describe NO DREAM in a nutshell. There are no real answers or elegant bows that tie our troubles together in a box to be sent off, only people like you and I and grievances we can’t do much about. But if you think we’re going to accept them you better think again.
NO DREAM is not the album of an anxious and insecure individual. On NO DREAM the problems haven’t vanished, in fact, they’ve only continued to grow and morph into our lives in other ways (when we’ve overcome one hurdle there’s always another), yet the unsettled anxiety that coloured Worry. and POST- has been replaced with a confidence and self-assurance that we haven’t heard from Rosenstock since the Bomb The Music Industry days. As a result, NO DREAM isn’t abrasive or nervously sporadic, it’s breezy, fun, and as bright as the summer sun. It’s not dissimilar to BTMI’s Vacation musically speaking, but this time we’re not running away, we’re facing the crap together.
Although NO DREAM can almost feel like a Yellowcard album at points with its beautiful, summery aesthetic and heart-felt approach, you can make no mistake about the who’s who behind it. This is a quirky, loud, and undeniably punk record full of personality and wit. “NO TIME” is a blistering and nostalgic opener that harkens back to the days of the fast, brief skater-punk jams of the 80s. Speaking of nostalgic throwbacks, “Leave It In The Sun” sounds like a lost gem from Green Day’s Kerplunk. The album’s titular track begins in a warm haze before exploding into a jaw-dropping outburst of hardcore punk that feels like BTMI has been brought back from the dead. Moreover, “Scram!” is one of the most cathartic and gleefully relatable songs Jeff has written in years.
The amount of melody and instrumental genius on display here is staggering. “State Line,” for example, opens with a peppy, jangly guitar lick that transitions into another anthemic and melodically gorgeous capstone. “The Beauty Of Breathing” is given a full studio makeover here after first appearing in demo form before being included on the Thanks, Sorry! live album from last year and it’s everything fans could have wanted. “Honeymoon Ashtray” and the emotionally heavy “Ohio Tpke” close the album on a serene but bittersweet note that brings us back to square one. The community, as caring and empathetic as it is, can be just as messed up as the rest. We criticize the world’s ideals of fame and corrupted ethics even though we are far from perfect ourselves. It is the ones who are closest to us that we will always value the most and for Rosenstock it is the bridge between them that is so agonizingly difficult to accept and subsequently cross.
NO DREAM is yet another triumph. It’s the sound of memories being made in the middle of rough times, mistakes being admitted to and forgiven, and relishing in the joy we find in each other. In other words, it’s a Jeff Rosenstock record.