Every once in a while, it is a good thing to take a look in the rear-view mirror, to take a chance and see just how far things have come. With punk music, this is something we traditionally do not get. Most the time, punk music has always been about living in the moment and capturing the energy that comes with it. For the most part, that is the formula that The Menzingers have followed. However, with the release of their fifth full-length album “After the Party” the band is taking their shot at aging gracefully.
The Menzingers, who are based out of Scranton, Pennsylvania, have been around since 2006. For the most part, they have a wide variety of influences in their sound. They bringing to life the Springsteen-era style of music with punk for a more modern age. The band has always been hardworking, on top of the now five studio albums, the band has released a number of extended plays, including one with The Bouncing Souls in 2013. There is a reason why the band is one of the most well known. They do what they do best; they have fun with their music. That is exactly the case with “After the Party.”
“After the Party” is a 13-track record that clocks in at around 45 minutes long. Front to back this record is full of a new and refreshed energy, which is a good thing when it mostly tackles the subject of getting older. We see that The Menzingers may have grown comfortable with their sound, it works well with this record. The sound is full of forward motion, while the tone and subject is in full reverse. Vocals are starting to sound a bit more haggard so we hear something more reminiscent of an older Bruce Springsteen, or even The Gaslight Anthem.
Musically, there is a lot of that classic-punk style. There are plenty of tracks that have some great, memorable riffs that contain the energy to have you bounce along to them, but they come in waves. The main thing is the band is still trying to have fun with the whole idea of age, so this record right from the beginning on “Tellin’ Lies” sets the tone for how the whole record is going to go. It is loud and in your face at times. There really is not nothing new for the band, at least how the music is composed, it is just a bit cleaner and concise with some tracks. There is still plenty of fun to be had with tracks like “Lookers” or “Charlie’s Army.” It is not hard to find a punk anthem to jam out to on this record.
Lyrically, this is where The Menzingers are experimenting with something new. The band is reflecting on the past and the idea of growing older, but at times it seems like they are not fully committed to that idea. After listening to the record, there are a few instances where it can come off as a bit whiny. Even then, there are a couple of tracks that I think really nail the aging punk feeling, with tracks like “Bad Catholics” or “Your Wild Years” that basically reflect on age and past romances. These two tracks alone are probably the strongest lyrically on the entire record, with “Your Wild Years” being the most romantic record. The band tried to sound a little bit like their last record “Rented World” but it is hard when taking on the whole getting old and being in a band tone.
Should you listen to it?: Yes
At its core, “After the Party” is still a record made by The Menzingers. That alone makes it a record worth checking out. The main takeaway is that this is a record for aging punks, people who are starting to feel like they are getting too old. There really is not a track on this entire record that does not deal with that idea. It is not a record that is life changing in the way it looks back into the past, it also is not blatantly full of regret. This is a record that The Menzingers wanted to make that is more for them than it is for us.