Things are a bit strange once you hit your early 30s. On one hand, you’re expected to be more mature, less reckless, and essentially have your shit together. On the other hand, in reality age is simply a number and nothing just “magically” changes just because another 365 days have past even though you see your friends losing touch as they become busy with kids, families, and careers. Nothing really changes while everything changes at the same time. On their latest album After The Party, The Menzingers provide the perfect soundtrack to this dichotomous transition.
With a chorus lamenting “Where we gonna go now that our twenties are over?”, Scranton born/Philadelphia adopted Menzingers nail that feeling of sudden expectations yet holding on to your rebellious youth in “Tellin Lies”. It’s a common theme found throughout the album, whether it’s about seeing exes you were once close to now established (“Bad Catholics”), watching life pass you by while remaining still (“House On Fire”) or being stuck in the same routine while your friends have grown up and moved on (“Bars”).
The Menzingers have changed a lot over the past decade as well. I’ve lived in Philly for the past ten years, and I’ve seen them go from a relatively small gritty punk band that played house shows regularly to now being a more melodic, toned down punk band that gets booked in bigger venues, such as Philadelphia’s Fillmore next month. Yet, at the same time they will do things such as inviting their fans to partake in a house party/music video shoot or announcing a surprise small show at a tiny dive, showing that The Menzingers never lost their roots.
On After The Party, The Menzingers traded the more aggressive punk with grittier vocals punk found on Chamberlain Waits and even flashes on Rented World for a more polished, poppy, melodic sound that is more similar to the Springsteen inspired tunes of Gaslight Anthem. It’s definitely more accessible, and I could easily play this for my non-punk fan friends and they’d dig it.
I want to hate this album, be that elitist (it’s my job to keep punk rock elite…) who gets upset about it being “less punk”, act holier than thou to the young-ins who aren’t familiar with their earlier stuff, but I can’t. Even songs like “Charlies Army”, which may be the poppiest song The Menzingers have ever written… and it’s easily one of my favorite on the albums
Maybe I want to hate the album so bad because not hating it is a sign of my own maturity at this point, but The Menzingers execute the sound so well on After The Party that I honestly can’t stop listening. After The Party is their best work since Chamberlain Waits, and is damn well worth your time. It’s still early, but it’s definitely a contender for one of the top albums written in 2017.