The Menzingers are back for their sixth LP and it’s definitely another gem from a band that personally can do no wrong. If After The Party felt like growing up, then Hello Exile is finally accepting it, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Musically, the album is the band’s most mature and diverse release yet, and lyrically, it’s filled with some of their most personal and emotional songs they’ve ever written. Combine the two, and Hello Exile is absolutely in the running to become The Menzingers’ best album yet. Although, I’m sure they’ll just go to top it again with the next one.
The Menzingers have always been a band that sings about their bygone days. Across 14 years of writing narrative-driven punk memoirs, co-frontmen Greg Barnett, 31, and Tom May, 33, have penned oodles of lyrics about old friends, former partners, youthful shenanigans, and the many beers that catalyzed it all. Their 2012 masterpiece was literally called On The Impossible Past, and the record’s obsession with the rearview codified their signature cocktail of aching nostalgia, stinging self-loathing, and the pervasive vertigo of their weary and woozy young adulthoods.
The Menzingers have finished recording their fifth album After The Party due for release 3rd February- the follow up to 2014’s Rented World. The band premiered a stand-alone single, titled Lookers, at Noisey, which also picked up triple j play.
Op het album After The Party staan dertien korte verhalen waarin de band je meeneemt in hun wereld. De ene na de andere punkrock-anthem zal deze avond de revue passeren.
What keeps Mr. Barnett grounded and continuing to march ahead is the rest of the band: Joe Godino on drums, Eric Keen on bass, Mr. May May on guitar and keyboards. They create a more varied squall here than on earlier albums, by turns sloppy (Tellin’ Lies”), pulverizing (Your Wild Years”), spry (Lookers”) and sludgy (The Bars”).
On the Impossible Past went on to be voted “Album Of The Year” 2012 for both and It was also voted “Album Of The Year” by RockZone magazine in Spain. With each album they add more to their story, and the underlying emotional connection to the band and their songs is what grows in intensity.
Check out the album’s first cut, artwork and tracklist below, along with The Menzingers’ 2013 Daytrotter Session. After the Party,” the fifth album by the Menzingers, confronts the anxieties of growing older.
It’s not fair to paint Hello Exile as a riskless album though, because it does actually takes some large strides forward. I Can’t Stop Drinking” is a great example of this. At five minutes and ten seconds, it’s the longest track on the album. I like that it challenges some of the Menzingers’ repeated imagery (…and we drove back drunk through the busy city streets.”) with what is an ironically sober look at themselves. Greg Barnett is rightly lauded for his short story approach to songwriting, often taking his lyrics behind the eyes of another character. But, I Can’t Stop Drinking” feels cutting, personal, and painful. I hope that both approaches survive into the band’s future, but it serves as a stark reminder of where all these pretty words are born.
The record is at least enjoyable enough for fans to reach the title track, the second to last, and realize it is the best song on the album. After the Party” ironically mocks the rocker lifestyle, while embracing the inherent dorky-ness of rocking out alone in your basement. Hearing Barnett growl Everybody wants to get famous, but you just want to dance in the basement” will make you believe he did the same before the days of living success, and part of him desperately wishes to get back to it.
Since forming as teenagers in 2006, The Menzingers have shown their strength as rough-and-tumble storytellers, turning out songs equally rooted in frenetic energy and lifelike detail.
The heavy Telecaster influence is a new one for both guitarists. Back home in Scranton, a couple of hours outside Philadelphia, Barnett wrote his first songs on a white Strat before picking up a Les Paul around the time The Menzingers were working on album four, 2014’s riff-happy Rented World, while May has also changed things up in recent years.
Since forming as teenagers in 2006, The Menzingers have shown their strength as rough-and-tumble storytellers, turning out songs equally rooted in frenetic energy and lifelike detail. On their new album Hello Exile, the Philadelphia-based punk band take their lyrical narrative to a whole new level and share their reflections on moments from the past and present: high-school hellraising, troubled relationships, aging and alcohol and political ennui. And while their songs often reveal certain painful truths, Hello Exile ultimately maintains the irrepressible spirit that’s always defined the band.
Previously, the split between songs led by Greg and Tom has been roughly even. Here, nine of the 12 songs are Greg’s, and much of the album revels in his wistful romanticism as a result. The title-track’s tale of a man haunted by summer love grown cold benefits from Will Yip’s (The Wonder Years, Code Orange) wide-open production, giving the moseying beach bar groove space to breathe. Not that Hello Exile sits around navel-gazing. The Tom-led Last To Know is a seething rocker, and the just-audible off-mic yell before the guitar solo showcases a band as exuberant as ever, even as Joe Godino’s beats hammer down like a hangover.
Later, May tackles climate change in the ripping Strawberry Mansion.” Where Barnett sounds confused and concerned in America,” May sounds furious to watch the planet burn. He commands everyone Back to hell, where we belong.” For a band that’s so often personal, it’s a refreshing anthem that can scare you into doing the work to combat climate change.
Pulling stories from the lives of those around him was something Barnett experimented with for the first time on Hello Exile, and it resulted in an album that frequently extends beyond their personal bubbles. The record’s fiery opener, America (You’re Freaking Me Out),” is one of the most overtly political songs they’ve written in years, and it’s an effective Menzingers song because it includes observations about both Barnett and the world around him. After setting a scene of homeless tents next to pricey condos and bigoted religious billboards on Southern highways, Barnett acknowledges his own inaction and commits himself to making change in the world rather than merely dwelling on his anxieties.
That’s some solid company. But none of those beer-soaked heartbreak bands does anything like The Menzingers. “On the Impossible Past” proved how good these guys are. Every subsequent album, every single, every show has shown how little they ever needed to prove.
Yeah, absolutely. Probably the toughest song on the album is I Can’t Stop Drinking,” the idea of that has always intrigued me. I’ve been around a lot of people who’ve struggled with alcohol, I’ve definitely had my fair share as well. Family members who’ve struggled with it, very, very close friends. I just felt like we’ve always written songs from a more youthful approach when it comes to substances. And the older that you get it gets a lot more complicated. And I knew that I wanted to write a song that kind of touched on all of that.
Although 2017’s After The Party was an attempt to reckon with the sudden entrance of their thirties, it felt more like them desperately reaching for the dog’s hair to quell a hangover than an actual moment of clarity. On the Pennsylvania quartet’s sixth album, Hello Exile, the boys soberly confront the consequences of their reckless abandon, and question whether clinging to their supposed glory days came at the expense of their futures. Many of Barnett’s lyrics stare down alcoholism, political anxieties, and myriad regrets without the rose-tinted glasses of his previous records. However, his fixation on what’s behind him hasn’t faded.
With this newfound confidence to explore new genres, songwriters Tom May and Greg Barnett have also expanded their voices as lyricists. The album’s two most political numbers don’t teeter around the way that the band’s earlier political tracks had. The album begins with the bold America (You’re Freaking Me Out),” which includes one of the most heartfelt and honest indictments of the current administration in a pop song: What kind of monsters did our parents vote for?” While The Menzingers have written politically charged anthems before, few are as direct as this.
After the Party” is the fifth full-length album by his band, the Menzingers, a shaggy punk band from Scranton, Pa., that for more than a decade has been snotty but not wistful, driven and not much for the rearview mirror. It has honed an extremely reliable and almost romantic take on blue-collar rock, largely avoiding the lyrical in favor of throbbing, pulsing id.
The Menzingers are known for making leaps. Not just into the audiences crowding the edges of the stage, but in their music, too. But on their new album After the Party their dynamic, introspective punk has been replaced by an aged cry for nostalgia, rebellion, and bands that sound a lot like The Clash.
The New York Times review of After the Party begins, Voices get hoarse. Muscles shrivel. Anger subsides. Memories fade. When a punk ages, it’s not always graceful.” Along with the release of After the Party, there was a sense that The Menzingers have grown up,” and the Times review confirms that, but as you listen to that record, you don’t really get that sense. From the ska-infused Tellin’ Lies” to the mosh-inducing anthem Bad Catholics” to the love songs Your Wild Years” or Lookers,” there’s more familiarity than difference to the guys who chain smoke in diners while knocking back Pabst Blue Ribbons.
A 30 year-old’s reflections on life are distinctly more concerned than those of the 20-somethings who bang around diners and bum cigarettes after VFW shows. Songs like Hello Exile” and Strangers Forever” both tackle the awkwardness of confronting the ghost of a long over relationship. High School Friend” and Farewell Youth” both face the uncomfortable truth that we often only see the ones we love at funerals, and we often have an odd sense of familiarity with the places we come from.
The biggest problem with After The Party is the way it reiterates previous thematic elements of The Menzingers’ music, with half the lyrical craft of the past few albums. The anger of some of their biggest influences, Rancid, Against Me!, etc, are gone as they’ve grown wearily into adulthood.
Sonically, Hello Exile is a standout because of the new direction that the band takes, but easily the strongest thing about the album is its lyrical content. High School Friend,” for instance, tells a story about returning to your hometown after growing up, running into people you used to hang out with, reminiscing on good times together and trying to find a way to connect with them after years apart. Then there’s Strangers Forever” which is a surprisingly upbeat breakup song of sorts, taking a line from Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel, Anna Karenina” in the sing-along worthy chorus.
Hailing from Scranton in Pennsylvania The Menzingers are currently at the fore front of a new breed of punk rock bands. Punk rock bands that combine the energy and in your face attitude of their influences but also a higher degree of musicianship that make their songs stand out not just live but also on record.
I probably struggled with this one the most, lyrically, because I had about 100 drafts of verses and lyrics and everything. There was just so much that I wanted to say and I really was intentional about it, I wanted to sound like me. I wanted to be overtly political but I still wanted to have my spin on it and I wanted to feel honest. And I wanted to write a song about travelling across America, like we’ve been fortunate enough to do in this band for 14 years, and experiencing how crazy it is firsthand.
In 2010, they released their second full-length, “Chamberlain Waits,” which went on to be named one of the best punk records of the year by sites like , and The success of the record also gained them a front-cover appearance on AMP Magazine. The album brought the respect of their peers, embarking on support slots for The Gaslight Anthem, Against Me!, NOFX and ANTI-FLAG across the US and Canada.
2012’s On The Impossible Past brought a more polished pop-punk sound to the band’s material, while showing huge leaps forward in terms of songwriting ability, literary references and album structure. It remains one of the best pop-punk albums of the decade. Their follow-up, Rented World, maintained the status quo for a generally solid release. Now, their fifth record After The Party attempts a change in direction, but produces diminishing returns.
The Menzingers released their fifth studio album After The Party on February 3, 2017, for Epitaph Records 7 , along with a United States tour featuring Jeff Rosenstock and other bands.
What’s changed? It’s tough to say, I guess reconciling with a lot of those ideas and themes. There’s a lot on the album that lends itself to that. There’s a song High School Friend.” Sometimes little things in your life just happen and all of the sudden it sends you down a road where you’re digging up things that you thought you put to bed 10-15 years ago. Just having a late night conversation with a friend from high school, staying up drinking, and all of a sudden everything comes flooding back and the songs come out of it.
For a punk band to get the seal-of-approval from Milo Aukerman of the Descendents is on a par with performing in the Super Bowl halftime show and with getting exceptional reviews. No, that’s a lie: it’s way better. The Menzingers have something to be proud of, and it is because they are much more than one of the most exciting bands of new punk rock. They invoke the energy of Anti-Flag together with Springsteen’s romanticism and the morning-after nostalgia of the Replacements, influences that underpin the melodies that are worthy of the Descendents themselves.
The Menzingers formed as teenagers in their hometown of Scranton in 2006, then later relocated to Philadelphia. The band made their Epitaph debut with 2012’s On The Impossible Past, which was voted Album of the Year by Absolute Punk and Punk News. Released in 2014, Rented World was praised as packed with clever songwriting” by The New York Times and a colossal fist-pumper” by Stereogum.
Proving the punk obsession managed to escape the confines of California, Pennsylvania outfit The Menzingers are doing punk rock in their own way. In less than a decade they have recorded and released four solid albums packed full of punk inspired gems adored by critics globally and have toured extensively. The lack of commerciality does not effect either the group or the fans as they both live for the live shows and getting to share the music together.
Now, I doubt the title means they’re off to exile or a self-imposed hiatus but I can see them taking time off after this album and some tours. It left me with that same feeling after the last Captain, We’re Sinking record (aka their sibling band, literally) and when they called it a day, I wasn’t surprised. What gives me this impression this band could follow suit now is how the Menzingers shape these tracks with a mid-tempo approach that doesn’t pack in much aggression at all, relying on catchy melodies a la Rented World to kind of warm things down to a lull. It’s anti-climactic, but not in a bad way, it’s just about losing the restlessness of old and that fire of youth. “I Can’t Stop Drinking” is a prime example of this, not to mention the closer in “Farewell Youth” – which bookends their last few albums on drugs, drinking, smoking and what it finally means to be an adult. In short, it’s all about older identities and this track in particular has that curtain-dropping effect to it.