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. Each album has been a slight departure from the last, cleaning up, tweaking and honing in on their sound. Between 2012’s On The Impossible Past and Rented World, it feels like the band has gotten comfortable with who they are. Their lyrics of heartbreak, being pissed off and the eventual willingness to admit when they make mistakes has made us feel all the while, they’ve just gotten better at saying it.
Rented World kicks off with I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore. This track sounds very similar to The Obituaries off On The Impossible Past. It builds and crashes with clamoring drums and searing guitars. Lyrically, it’s as close to an apology as you’ll get from the Menzingers: “And I’ve been wandering and I live through the garden of your heartache/Always making a mess, always stumbling out the door/But I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore/Woah baby, baby I’ll be good to you.”
As things progress, the band takes some sonic risks and tries techniques they haven’t really explored before. An example of this is Where Your Heartache Exists. Vocally, Greg Barnett is allowing a little more vulnerability than his usual aggressive shouts. He does both extremely well, but the quietness in this song shows a more exposed side. Rented World also features more singing from band member Tom May, which is exciting. He has a punk-y, Rancid vibe going on. The Talk is one of the must-hears on the record, in large part because of May’s aggressive vocals that make the song sound classically mosh-pitable.
In the vein of new things the band is trying out, there is more jamming wherein they allow themselves chances to slow down and explore their sound. Transient Love, the band’s longest song to date, begins with almost a full minute and a half of calm jamming of guitar, drums and bass. And When You Died is a beautiful acoustic track that closes out the album.
In Remission comes around towards the close too, a cool punk song that exemplifies everything that this band is so good at. It builds and explodes in sound, steps back and explodes again. It’s punk and it’s honest, just like the Menzingers themselves.