Does anyone who’s grown up truly care about Pop-Punk as much as they would have as a devoted teenage fan? The answer is probably not, outside of a couple of bands that bring back the nostalgia of their youth. It’s rare that any pop-punk band is actually made for adults in all seriousness. Where does that leave the bands who tried to break through in the golden era of pop-punk and never got through? The worst type of thing to happen to a band is to gather some buzz in the underground as it’s so much harder to deal with if the band breaks up. That’s what happened to Jeff Rosenstock in his previous band ‘Bomb The Music Industry!’.
This frustration that he must have felt when this band broke up translates into this record. On this album he ponders upon where life has taken him as he releases yet another solo project while all of the people he used to know are settling down with families and getting houses. He ponders upon how this makes him look like he’s desperately trying to remain young on the opening track ‘Getting Old Forever’, with him saying he feels ‘childish and embarrassing’ when he bums around at home. Jeff talks about the thing that so many people who try to break into the music industry unsuccessfully for so long feel – what am I doing with my life? When is it time to give up? Should I just have another drink instead of thinking too much into these things? Because at the end of the day they do grant me the freedom that a lot of people don’t have. He paints a very real picture of the way that so many people feel chasing their dreams.
It seems so appropriate that on this album Jeff takes inspiration from so much of the music that he grew up around as the album tells the story of a man who thought he was onto his big break when this music was huge. I’m sure he’s probably sick of hearing this but his music certainly takes influence from Weezer’s early work especially when you listen to songs like ‘Novelty Sweater’ which is definitely in some ways a throwback to ‘The Sweater Song’ on Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’. The only other way I can compare Jeff to Weezer is that on this album he seems to have an infinite pool of ideas surrounding the more melodic side of punk. Jeff takes influence from Indie, folk and country and manages to swindle a large variety of instruments onto the album. Right from the opening track where the acoustic guitar almost sounds as it’s working as percussion more than the drumming itself; to the fact that every single chorus on here is anthemic brilliance like on ‘Beers Again Alone’.
Regardless of the subject matters of the songs they all remain upbeat and even feel uplifting at times. Jeff is able to take these melodies and build them up to the point where they feel so tense and powerful. This is probably helped by the fact that Jeff is constantly giving his all when he sings often having to shout to get a note out if he has to like on the song ‘I’m Serious, I’m Sorry’ which has him softly singing a melody similar to that of Pulp’s ‘Year 2000’ before screaming away the chorus. The album is extremely coherent and even though all these songs are melodically and instrumentally so different from each other, they flow into each other so well.
With a bit of luck ‘We Cool?’ will be the album that brings more attention to Jeff Rosenstock. The 32-year-old man has made an album that sounds very much like a 32-year-old man having a bit of a crisis. But an enjoyable crisis. He’s made music that on the surface level sounds like something you might possibly hear at a teenage party. But dig deeper and it’s a dark (and humerous at times) documentation of someone not knowing what way to go.
Best Tracks: Get Old Forever, Novelty Sweater, I’m Serious I’m Sorry, Beers Again Alone