Modern pop-punk can be divisive, but if we consider Jeff Rosenstock's third album — which, amid a cohort of other no-bullshit bands like the Sidekicks, Joyce Manor and RVIVR, effortlessly encapsulates the spirit of the genre while brushing off its most unappetizing tropes — the epitome of what "pop-punk" is and ought to be, then it should need no defending.
With WORRY., Rosenstock builds on last year's We Cool? not by dealing himself a new hand, but by stacking his cards a little higher. The fast songs are faster, the slow songs are slower and the big songs are bigger. There's one base descriptor missing from that list: "quiet." Rosenstock doesn't really do it — or at least not for very long — yet he offers glimpses of it here, if only for short periods before exploding into fuzzy garage-punk again ("HELLLLHOOOOLE," for example). And when he does pull the dials back, it really is effective.
Rosenstock dances between catchy, upbeat punk ("Wave Goodnight to Me," "Pash Rash"), grandiose, show tunes-y rock ("We Begged 2 Explode"), fast and flighty ska-punk ("Rainbow"), brash, barrelling hardcore punk ("Planet Luxury") and quirky, breathless power-pop ("Bang on the Door," "Festival Song") without breaking stride. Always chasing the next song, he blasts through 17 tracks in just under 38 minutes, changing up so abruptly that the ending of one can't help but stick out jaggedly against the beginning of the next. WORRY. is the kind of rollercoaster you might fully appreciate only if you really, really like rollercoasters.
More than anything, WORRY. is a plainspoken account of growing up, always surrounded and inhabited by uncertainty, insecurity, doubt and constant change. It's personal and political in a way that'll speak to anyone who's young (or young at heart) and trying to figure things out — and maybe, if they can find it in themselves, to be something special. (Side One Dummy)