I hate voicemail. I hate leaving it. I hate receiving it. I always expect the worst and/or I think I sound like a total goober on the other end. Basically, it’s the one technology that gives me the most anxiety. So it’s fitting that the latest from Antarctigo Vespucci, Love in the Time of E-Mail, would begin with a song called “Voicemail,” kicking off a record that encompasses all the anxiety-ridden excitement and nervousness that comes with exploring personal relationships in a digital world.
It’s the second full-length release from the dynamic duo of Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock (the first on Polyvinyl Records). As the frontmen of two beloved underground punk bands – Fake Problems and Bomb The Music Industry! respectively – the two musicians’ profiles have risen considerably over the past few years due to incredible solo albums and headline-stealing performances. So despite having a little more buzz surrounding this release than their 2015 debut Leavin’ La Vida Loca, Antarctigo Vespucci decided to keep doing what they do best – dissecting the pop songs that defined its genre and integrating those moments into 3-minute bursts of intoxicating rock songs. The album offers a terrific mix of Rosenstock’s fuzzy punk energy and Farren’s honey-sweet melodies, resulting in the band’s best release in their 100-year career.
Despite the often goofy online personas from the two, Farren and Rosenstock have an incredible knack for writing heartbreakingly beautiful insights into being a human being. One of E-Mail’s best highlights, “Breathless on DVD,” chronicles Farren revisiting the sting from a relationship that ended nine years ago (“Why did I crumble at the thought of you last night?” sings Farren over the song’s glitchy, bouncy chorus). Balancing cultural absurdity with real emotional turmoil has been a staple of Antarctigo Vespucci’s music, with E-Mail executing it flawlessly throughout its thirteen tracks. Some of more infectious cuts include “So Vivid!” and “Kimmy,” showcasing the strength of Farren’s tenor, while “Freakin’ U Out” and “Not Yours” channel the spastic energy heard on Rosenstock’s last two albums, WORRY! and POST-. But Love in the Time of E-Mail shines brightest when those two energies collide and songs like the aforementioned “Breathless on DVD,” “All These Nights,” and “Another Good Thing” rise and take the record to another level, harkening back to the emotional angst and bombast of classic records like Pinkerton and Shake the Sheets.
Overall, Love in the Time of E-Mail is more than just falling in love and how social media makes things weird – it’s about figuring out to maintain and grow in said relationships once you find them. And regardless of what your Facebook relationship status says right, Farren and Rosenstock have written a record that will be instantly relatable. Antarctigo Vespucci expertly navigates these feelings and more, especially on the hauntingly poignant “Lifelike,” as Farren muses existentially over swelling, echoing keys. Paired with the album’s final track, obviously titled “E-Mail,” Antarctigo Vespucci close the record on a somber note – the realization that being weird and neurotic is something almost inescapable.