The Menzingers – After the Party
I recently discovered The Menzingers, though they’ve been around for a decade or so, and honestly I could have made any of their albums my pick. However, After the Party, their fifth full length album (third on Epitaph Records), conveniently came out just last week, so it seemed highly appropriate. These guys are, without getting overly analytical, a modern pop- punk band. When I listen to them I hear the blended, collective influence of all the punk, pop- punk and emo bands that I was listening to in the early-to-mid-2000’s. Bands like Alkaline Trio, Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, the Ataris, and New Found Glory (or pretty much any band on Drive-Thru Records), among many others. And that makes a lot of sense, seeing as The Menzingers formed in 2006.
There is, however, one notable difference between The Menzingers and most of the pop-punk I grew up on, and that's lyrical content that is decidedly more grown-up. Where many of their predecessors and contemporaries might sing about teen dating drama or high school social politics, here you’ll find songs about unemployment, the weight of past relationships (and not just romantic ones), reconciling the promise of youth with the realities of adult life, and, yes, hope for the future. Their is a fair amount of reminiscing about past, youthful exploits, but it’s done with a perspective that is abundantly clear that it’s just that, the past.
Relative to the rest of their discography, this album takes the next step down an impressively consistent path. Each of their albums is an excellent offering, but they do trend toward a typical progression in that each seems slightly more mellow, slightly more produced than the last. I strongly emphasize slightly, though, and even though After the Party might be The Menzingers least “punk” album to date, I believe it may also be my favorite. (Seriously, though, they’re all good.)