I look forward to the opening tracks of The Menzinger‘s albums more than I look forward to pay day. From ‘On The Impossible Past’‘s ‘Good Things’ to ‘Rented World’‘s ‘I Don’t Want To Be An Asshole Anymore’, past curtain-raisers have been self-deprecating, punchy, and in total contrast to the songwriting and thematic conventions of the rest of the record.
‘Tellin’ Lies’, the intro to this latest release ‘After The Party’, is no different, featuring the immediately memorable line, “Oh yeah, oh yeah / Everything is terrible / Buying marijuana makes you feel like a criminal / When your new friends take a joke too literal / Making you feel like a bad guy.” From then on, the album touches a lot of the same bases that are, by now, familiar ground for the Pennsylvania strongmen: lost love, growing up, and worrying that you’re past your prime.
If this album sounds like more of the same, then you’d be right. If you’re a fan of theirs, that’s only good news. Some credit is due, however, because although they don’t deviate from the roots that make their music so driving and raw, this album sees them slowly dipping their toes into different genres.
‘Lookers’, one of the best tracks on the album, starts with a lonesome whine that could belong to PWR BTTM, but then busts out into a series of catchy Against Me!-esque hooks. ‘Living Ain’t Easy’ throws a washed out, clean guitar into the mix that you just know will turn up again in some sepia-toned, driving-montage music video soon. None of these foreign elements threaten to overtake the songs, however, serving more as temporary motifs, discarded (too eagerly, maybe) before the band get into their regular groove.
Instead, the song ‘Black Mass’ provides the most interesting dynamic change, almost serving as a low-fi cover of one of their other songs. There are misfires; ‘Your Wilder Years’ is perhaps too paint-by-numbers in its pop-rock style. Those looking for a conventional The Menzingers tune should listen to ‘Bad Catholics’, which contains everything the average fan looks for – religious guilt, ex-girlfriends, and lyrics which scan like a story that a good friend is telling you, drunk, in the bar, at 2:00AM.
‘After The Party’ sees The Menzingers continue their strong body of work, paying heed to their classic sound, but sprinkling new flavours on top along the way. It’s already a strong contender for album of the year.
Written by Chris Yeoh (@Chris_Yeoh)