“Is it finally true that we’re not getting any younger?” – “Boy Blue”, Track 8
Honestly? I kinda hate reviewing another album as impressive as this one. I’ve kinda become accustomed to tearing things down and yet, here we are: Listening to another master class in modern day Punk Rock that you should all start listening to right away.
The Menzingers knock it out of the park with their newest release “After The Party”, reaching deep into the nostalgia center of my brain while simultaneously forcing me to take a long look at my position in life; being forced to grow out of late nights, booze, and leather jackets. Like re-reading yearbook comments from friends you haven’t seen in a decade, just before walking in to your high school reunion.
It is as wonderful as it is heartbreaking.
The first track comes strong out of the gate, showing the singer reaching an existential crisis that a lot of musicians face, when you’re getting older and finding yourself in cheap motel rooms. Lines such as: “Like four chords that dont love you no more/ in a motel room, a sleeping bag on the floor” really drive the point home and set a very direct tone for the upcoming album. It reminds me of the opening to their last album “Rented World” with the song “I Dont Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore”.
The rest of the album continues to play out like a 30-something drinking a bottle of whiskey and reading old yearbook. Each song commenting on getting older, and like our aforementioned lonely drunk, the emotional feelings of the songs waiver between heartbroken and hopeful. While the transition is rapid, The Menzingers really seem to spend a lot of time making sure the songs flow together well and you never really feel like the transition is too abrupt.
The album ends with a one-two combo that hits me right in the heart. “After the Party” weaves this story that might has well have been a snap shot of my life; in particular, I was struck with the lyrical imagery of this line: “And that Matryoshka Russian doll/ that lines your shelf from big to small/ what a way to start anew/ to shed your skin and find the old you”. It reminds me of what its like to meet someone who seems very together and down-to-earth, then finding their old myspace page full of old emo pictures and Taking Back Sunday lyrics. I leave it to the reader to decide if thats a good thing or a bad thing.
Following that, the album ends with the track “Livin’ Aint Easy” which basically culminates to being in your early 30s and being broke. Its kind of like you are trying for years and years to get in to grad school, you miss being an artist and a musician but you cant find the time to do something for yourself, and you end up writing for a music blog because you just want a chance to make something beautiful. Or you know, something like that.
The Verdict: Maybe its just that this album hit me at the right time in my life, but I loved “After The Party”. My biggest suggestion would be that if you are planning on checking it out, listen to the whole album in one sitting – at least the first time through.
The music can be a little dissonant with its intense, pop punk energy mixed with the dark and brooding themes of the lyrics. I’ve said before that it would intensify the impact of the song if musicians would go all-in on the composition matching the mood of the song, or at least bring the tempo down slightly.
However, these issues are largely personal and do not take away from the awesomeness of the album.
The Score: 9/10