By Justin Cudahy, Staff Writer
Key Tracks: “Tellin’ Lies,” “Lookers,” “The Bars”
Many may know The Menzingers for their 2012 album On the Impossible Past, which was met with critical acclaim and was praised for its nostalgic sound and lyrics that reflect personal heartbreak. Since then, the band has maintained their punk rock sound, which is evident on their latest album, After the Party.
The Menzingers’ fifth studio album focuses on all four of the members leaving behind their 20s, entering a new chapter in their lives. The opening track, “Tellin’ Lies,” establishes this theme, with its chorus that asserts the painful question: “Where are we going to go now that our 20s are over?” It’s a strong opener that starts the album off on the right track, preparing listeners for what will be a nostalgia trip. Both Greg Barnett and Tom May take up the vocals, switching back and forth throughout the album bringing up memories, regrets and everything else that they’ve experienced in the last 10 years.
Thankfully, After the Party isn’t just straight punk sound for its entire 44-minute duration. Each track paces itself differently from one another for the most part. While “Thick as Thieves” is a heavy hitting, in your face, kind of a song, it is immediately followed by the calmer and more poetic “Lookers,” which focuses on the emotional aspect of growing up. The same thing occurs later in the album with the segueing from “Your Wild Years” to “The Bars,” proving that it’s the slower and more creative tracks that drive the emotional aspect of the album’s theme.
While these songs are great, unfortunately, the other six or seven tracks aren’t so much. Many of the songs seem to blend together, making it sound like one long song instead of 13 separate tracks. Part of it is due to the fact that the band never strays far from their sound and style, making the music feel too generic to the punk genre (with the exception of “Lookers” and “The Bars”). Each song’s structure sounds almost identical from one another as well, switching between verse and chorus, with the occasional bridge and/or solo sprinkled in. It’s for this reason that many of the songs are easily forgettable, which is one of the worst things to have for listeners.
After the Party is the most unique album that The Menzingers have released in their 11-year span so far. Although it lacks diversity in sound and structure, it is still well-made, providing an interesting and somber commentary on a topic that many people in their 20s will be able to relate to. The Menzingers may be getting old, but their music hasn’t aged a bit.