Sunday, June 16, 2024

J Prozac - Obsession

The Rum Bar Records Summer of Pop-Punk is in full swing! New albums from J Prozac, The Cretins, and Pavid Vermin dropped this past Friday; the American release of The Yum Yums' Poppin' Up Again and a new EP from Boris the freaking Sprinkler are set for July 5th. Twentysomething me would be geeking out. Present-day me is super-stoked to realize that this sort of music has held up remarkably well when subjected to the test of time. 

If you cut open J Prozac, he would bleed pop-punk. He's a lifer and true believer. His longevity in this genre is a testament to the room he has left himself to grow as songwriter. On his new release Obsession, he continues to balance a deep love for pop-punk as a near-perfect musical form with his personal evolution as a singer, songwriter, family man, and human. Obsession doesn't stray far from the J Prozac signature sound you know and love, but lyrically it goes super deep. In fact, Jay has never gone deeper. This is a pretty dark record that finds Jay confronting a lot of his demons. Many of these songs come from a headspace where darkness is descending upon you and everything around you seems to be falling apart. With tremendous openness and honesty, Jay reflects on struggle and pain and a hopelessness that can consume you if you let it. Ultimately, this collection of songs sees the light at the end of the tunnel without sugar-coating reality. The worst thing you can do when you find yourself in a dark place is to keep it all bottled in and never let anyone know you're struggling. J Prozac, who has put some of his deepest, darkest reflections into song, is an inspiration. He has also proven that you can still write love songs as a proper grown-up if you make sure they cut deeper. A hopeful song like "That Feeling" is all the more powerful because you know it's not bullshit. It's real and raw and straight from the heart. "When That Day Comes" is a Prozac specialty: a heart-on-sleeve anthem that would be unbearably sappy in the hands of most songwriters but is nothing but chills coming from Jay. There are some real curveballs on this record (such as "The Bitter End" and "No One Else"), but overall the vibe here is quasi-mainstream '90s/2000s pop-punk. It sounds a little like the best album Fat Wreck Chords never released. It's more conventionally pop-punk than 2022's Won't Let Go yet still feels like a progression for J Prozac. 

At some point as a pop-punk songwriter, you probably have to let go of an adolescent perspective and get into some heavy adult shit and hope that your audience grows with you. Decades ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of adult-oriented pop-punk. But now I'm hearing the likes of The Young Hasselhoffs and J Prozac, who were real teenagers in the '90s when I was still pretending to be one, making the best records of their lives a quarter-century later, and I don't see any reason for this ride to end as long as we're all still breathing. Vinyl copies of Obsession are super-limited, so get cracking while the cracking's good!  


Mark said...

Will you review the new mean jeans album? it's maybe their best work

Drunk Ted said...

That may be one of the best albums of the year! wow! Thanks for turning me on to this!