Release Date: Apr 22, 2014
Record label: Epitaph
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Punk Revival, Punk-Pop
Review Summary: The all too possible future.The first time I listened to Rented World, my inclination was to be disappointed. On the Impossible Past was my favorite album of 2012, and Rented World is lacking a lot of the things that I loved about that record. What was the point of the record? Where was the gorgeous nostalgia of Impossible Past? This album just sounded so aggressively modern, when all I wanted was for The Menzingers to turn back the clock even more.
Every band has that album where they switch it up, try a few new things, add some more production values, and maybe bust out some big, dumb riffs. Well, not all bands do that, but Scranton, PA foursome the Menzingers do on their fourth album, Rented World, and while the response has been mixed, there's no denying the album is catchy. Catchy is one thing, but it was the heart-on-sleeve emotions of their previous album, 2012's On the Impossible Past, that put these guys into the pantheon of pop punk, and an argument has been made that Rented World will never top the play-repeat-play-repeat infectiousness of that third album, on which everything that made the Menzingers so special seemed to align perfectly.
Two years ago The Menzingers erupted on to the punk scene with third full length ‘On The Impossible Past’. Fast forward to 2014 and they’re back with new album ‘Rented World’. Following up an album which dominated album of the year lists left, right and centre may have been a daunting task, but on ‘Rented World’ The Menzingers show that it’s a challenge that they are more than up to.Here The Menzingers continue to draw from what they know best, recounting stories of dive bars, empty bottles and broken hearts.
Although the process of growing up can be hard, the real challenge comes afterwards, when we're left to figure out how to live in a world without a safety net. It's this idea that the Menzingers explore on their fourth album, Rented World. If their previous effort, 2012's On the Impossible Past, was about getting to maturity, Rented World is an album about dealing with a world where your actions have lasting consequences.
The Menzingers are having something of a moment. After 2012’s On the Impossible Past caught the crest of a melodic-punk wave spearheaded by bands like Titus Andronicus, this tiny Philly-based, Scranton-spawned band traveled the world, bringing its shouty brand of guitar music to audiences far and wide. Therefore one is tempted to listen to Rented World, their newest, in light of this history, and especially as compared to Impossible Past.
Punk rock is full of young adults frustrated by the cruel world. But on their fourth full-length, 30-somethings the Menzingers take that dissatisfaction one step further, adding tales of heart-wrenching paranoia and self-realization to the mix. Instead of condemnations of society's expectations, lead singer Tom May comes to terms with his place as an aging punk, employing a newfound clarity in his lyrics.
Proving that guys in scrappy hoodies and faded Bouncing Souls shirts have feelings too are Pennsylvania punk lads The Menzingers. On their fourth album they mix straight-up Rancid-style riffing (‘The Talk’) and circle-pit friendly declarations of gentlemanliness (‘I Don’t Want To Be An Asshole Anymore’) with weightier excursions into anguish. ‘Where Your Heartache Exists’ provides one of many Gaslight Anthemic moments, heavy with emotion and engine oil, while the whinging and growling two-step rocker ‘Nothing Feels Good Anymore’ is a full-on proto-emo flashback.
Following up on a masterpiece album is a challenge every great band faces at some point. Expectations increase, money is more of a factor because the fanbase has grown, and all these little anxieties settle in the back of the songwriter’s head as he or she tries to find inspiration. Such are the circumstances surrounding The Menzingers’ Rented World — the followup to 2012’s On the Impossible Past, which was a minor revelation in the pop punk world.
Thanks to a fortuitous decision about a decade ago to combine the ska band Bob and The Sagets (which is quite possibly the worst… or best name I have ever heard for ska band) with the punk band Kos Mos, the Scranton boys that make up The Menzingers put themselves on the path to creating one of the best pop punk albums 2014 has heard yet. Alas, we will never know what could have become of Bob and The Sagets. The Menzingers, having since relocated to Philadelphia, have shown plenty of promise over their past three releases, but those earlier efforts always had a mix of the so-so with the great.
It seems like a rule for Philly-based rockers the Menzingers not to mince words. They’re a group that aims to say exactly what they mean, whether it’s an admittance that they know when they’re going to fuck up, or claiming that they simply don’t want to be assholes anymore. The Menzingers have grown up considerably since their inception in 2006.
Despite the worn out idiom that Americans just don't do self-deprecation, there's a slab of US-born culture that has grown fat off its ability to look at itself in a scathing manner. In recent years, a strain of bands have mutated from the vapid ooze of skate punk, leaving behind the endless summer of American Pie and keg parties, and have grown up in an America of vastly disparate wealth and social opportunities. Blue-collar America, squatting behind the zirconian glitz of the States' coastal wealth, got lost somewhere in youthful utopia of the millennium and the tubby consumerist media that came grunting out of it.