By Alexandra Jones
Photo by Zack Gross
“I don’t wanna be starting out when I’m 40,” says Michelle Zauner, guitarist and singer for indie pop-rockers Post Post. The tongue-in-cheek remark comes from someone who’s just old enough to cash in drink tickets at gigs, but the immediacy behind it is real. Carpe diem, carpe musicam.
Post Post is young, smart, confused, talented, alienated, confident, romantic – and it all plays out in their songs. The band’s members are students, all but one starting senior years at Haverford or Bryn Mawr colleges, whose creative ambition has them cutting class to put in snatches of studio time rather than applying for internships. They make music that’s mournful, reflective, vital, and fun. They are on an exhilarating and terrifying cusp in their lives – and that forward-looking uncertainty makes for damn good art.
After last year’s homemade Meta Meta EP, Post Post secured a few days of studio time in Fishtown for their latest, Residents, a less rough-and-tumble record than their debut. Zauner’s impassioned, declamatory singing style is at the fore, with just enough shimmer added to fill out the space between the precise ebb and flow of Sowa and O’Halloran’s rhythm section and Helgeson’s airy synthesizer countermelodies.
“All four of the songs are about images of residence and houses and architecture, how concepts of architecture are very similar to concepts of a relationship,” says Zauner. “It seems like it’s this tangible thing but it’s really something that’s constructed, and what happens when that construction breaks down?”
Sowa’s lyrics put forth a more clearly formed version of the pumped-up horomonal rock energy you and I are used to, shaped by experience and self-reflection. She’s equally adept at painting broad narratives with her words and highlighting details that catch in your throat. The crevices and cracks mentioned in “Architects” evoke places where precious things go to be lost forever. In “Drafts,” Zauner’s proclamation, “I can’t go / I will die inside this house alone” shows how hard it is to let go of someone who’s already long gone.
“I never really write songs when I’m happy,” she says. “I think that there’s this mental block when I’m happy…I generally can only write in a period in which I’m starting to become happy or starting to become upset about something, and those are the two times in which I’m most creative.” She hesitates to call Residents a breakup record, “[b]ut lately I’ve sort of been branching away from that and writing more about personal experience and this weird phase of adulthood that we’ve started to reach.”
The same drama that makes a compelling love song stokes the existential musings of the twentysomething.
“It’s a weird sort of place because you’re being creative, you’re expressing yourself, you’re trying to make something of yourself,” Helgeson says. “On the other hand it derails all of these other things that your parents, for example, might have expected. Other things, other people around you move on to having real jobs.”
O’Halloran is philosophical about their success. “Having a band is a good way of saying you’re productive when you’re not productive in that sense, when you’re not getting a specific career.” Self-deprecation aside, there’s no mistaking this feather in the band’s cap: Post Post will open for the Thermals and Cymbals Eat Guitars at the First Unitarian Church on October 12.
Beyond that, they’ve got a strategy – not just a way to achieve a school/band balance. “Our plan as of now is to keep playing Philadelphia, try harder to get out regionally and play shows regionally, and tour as much as we can while we’re in school,” says Zauner. They’re considering a 7″, and although Residents is still new in the world, Post Post are already looking to the next step in their evolution. “We’re kind of going in a more experimental, noisier, more punky direction that’s a lot less sort of dancy pop girly music and more us wanting to create more complicated sounds,” she says.
“Despite the fact of how unstable this future is and all the other alternatives we’re giving up that would be way more stable for this, [for] pursuing this,” Sowa says, “at the end of the day, when are you going to get another chance? You gotta do it when you’re young.”