NO DREAM is the fourth full-length from Jeff Rosenstock. It comes at a time of unparalleled chaos and confusion, division and despair, the depths of which would have been impossible to predict when much of it was being written over the course of the last few years. And yet the record feels prescient, unexpectedly and uniquely suited for this moment.
“It was feeling like a very personal record for me,” says Rosenstock, newly settled in Los Angeles after a lifetime on the opposite coast. “A lot of it was stemming from the anxiety I was feeling from the last two years, this existential crisis of wondering who I am.” Rosenstock has found himself in a surprising position. As he puts it simply: “I didn’t expect to be doing well, in my life, ever.”
After building a cult following with the acerbic ska-punk of the Arrogant Sons of Bitches and DIY heroics of Bomb the Music Industry!, Rosenstock’s first proper solo record, 2015’s We Cool?, was a step into uncharted territory, fully untethered from genre and expectation. Followed by 2016’s WORRY. and the surprise New Year’s Day launch of POST- in the early hours of 2018, Rosenstock was facing down that least punk of opportunities: a career playing music.
“I got so used to putting out records that only a few people in the punk underground liked,” he says. “And a lot of people in the punk underground also didn’t like them, either.” Except things have changed, and NO DREAM arrives with an entirely new set of expectations in an entirely new era. The greatest surprise is that Rosenstock’s deeply personal self doubt is expressed in a way that captures a universal feeling of shock and uncertainty, his own growing anxieties about his place in the world holding space for our own. “I was trying to not be afraid of using phrases that weren't immediately clear to me, aside from how they sounded and felt, then allowing them to reveal themselves over time.”
The resulting songs would be recorded once again with Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Hard Girls, Joyce Manor) at the Atomic Garden, where Rosenstock took on mixing duties alongside Shirley for the first time. Opting to stay off the computer “even more than usual” and record to tape with outboard gear, the result is a lived-in sound that gives each song its own individual voice and organic energy.