By Henry Schmidel
Antarctigo Vespucci is the power-pop side project of punk legend Jeff Rosenstock and indie-punk darling Chris Farren. After Farren’s Florida-based band Fake Problems went on hiatus in 2014, he moved to New York and found Rosenstock, whom he’d met years earlier when Jeff was fronting Bomb The Music Industry! Within the year, Antarctigo Vespucci released two EPs. Last October, they released their second full-length album: Love in the Time of E-Mail.
E-Mail is hard to describe without metaphor. It’s trying to sleep on a friend’s couch—kept awake by the sound of their DVD player’s menu music and light barely peeking through thin window shades. It’s finding love in this new, online world, from dating over email to the heart-pounding nerves of those three dots in iMessage. Most importantly, it’s somehow reminiscent of a specific age yet timeless, using the archaic spelling of e-mail and nostalgic memories to describe feelings that are pervasive through generations. All thirteen songs approach this in a different way, a Black Mirror-like anthology of love in the digital age.
Though it covers a very deliberate theme, Love in the Time of E-Mail doesn’t play out like a typical concept album. Every song is unique and has huge meaning and impact independent of the album as a whole. “Voicemail” is an ethereal message to some unknown lover, constantly backed by the sound of an analog answering machine’s tape rolling. “Kimmy” tells the tale of nervousness and fear at bringing an exclusively online relationship into the real world. “White Noise” describes the fear felt when falling in love with someone without knowing if they feel the same way. It’s also one of the few times that the pointed politicism of Rosenstock’s solo work creeps into Antarctigo Vespucci. “Passed out on election day / Tripping over my words on stage” wouldn’t sound out of place if it were on his own 2018 album, POST-.
“Breathless on DVD” is my personal favorite track. What do you think of when you’re reminded of someone you used to love? Antarctigo Vespucci answers that question with questions of their own. “Are you still 27 and mad at me / Watching Breathless on DVD / In the dead of winter, 2009” is their response. When you think of someone from the past, you’re remembering how you felt, not who they were. Unfortunately for Farren, this relationship didn’t end well, leaving him with one more question: “Why did I crumble? / Why did I crumble at the thought of you last night?”
Sometimes when you remember the good times, it’s hard to remember the not-so-good times that went with them. Love In The Time Of E-Mail, however, doesn’t let you forget. For every sweeping love song that Farren and Rosenstock cook up, there’s a sad side, a reminder that if our past relationships were perfect, they never would have ended.