The Menzingers – Rented World
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2014
Has pop punk been secretly thriving all of these years, or are all the people who grew up on pop punk in the early 00s reviving the genre in their mid-to-late 20s? Either way, there’s something about this new wave of energetic records packed with hooks, sing-a-long harmonies, and big, booming power chords. Scranton, PA’s the Menzingers are as good as anyone when it comes to thoughtful whoa-Oh-oh pop punk. I’d never heard of this band until I saw they were touring with Lemuria (fellow purveyors of thoughtful, catchy music), and of course I stumbled across this album the next week and bought it sight unseen. Er, sound unheard? Either way, it’s something I never do, and something that sent a little thrill down my spine. Sure, it’s exciting to find new music on the internet, but actually taking a risk on a band has become wholly unnecessary in our society and while that’s mostly for the best, there’s something special about taking home a cool looking record, putting it on the turntable, and unlocking the mystery.
When the Menzingers are at their best they remind me of the first Killers album. I hope that doesn’t come across as an insult, because that record has some of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. Earworms that reside in my brain til this day. And tracks like “Where Your Heartache Exists” massage that part of my brain that lives on grandiose pop music. The Menzingers are smarter than the Killers, and they have more heart. My favorite surprise from Rented World is the excellent songwriting. The music is so good, the lyric sheet doesn’t need to be anything special, but it is anyway. The songs are wordy, but Tom May and Greg Barnett are more than capable of wrapping them around these potentially overpowering tracks.
I’m a grown ass man, but I’m enjoying this album the same way I would have when I was sixteen. The big change though is I am now better equipped to appreciate the ebb and flow. The tracks needn’t all be high-octane bangers to get my seal of approval, and the slower tracks peppered in to give the album texture (the lovely “Transient Love” and the heartwrenching acoustic closer “When You Died” help to make Rented World more than just another punk rock recordthe invasion) are some of my favorites. Better still, when the tracks switch tempo midstream, as on “In Remission,” which I can’t stop listening to. Equal parts anthemic and sensitive, the Menzingers do a great job of subverting expectations and manage to put their own stamp on a well-worn genre.
"I Don't Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore"