ALBUM REVIEW: The Menzingers, Rented World
Of all the words one could employ to describe Scranton, Pa.’s The Menzingers, straightforward is perhaps the most appropriate. There is nothing technically elaborate about the quartet’s brand of deeply moving, melodic punk rock. They rely only on the basics: guitar, bass, drums, and a steady dose of heartbreak. Their latest effort, Rented World, is no different, but perhaps the most sophisticated of this foolproof formula as of yet.
The album begins on a—you guessed it—straightforward note with “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore.” Vocalist Greg Barnett earnestly apologizes to some nameless love interest for his past indiscretions. Among these, he lists drinking too much, lying, and prying over his lover’s whereabouts. And yet, in true Menzingers fashion, it boils down to one phrase.
This pattern is consistent throughout most of the record. They take millennial angst to its most basic, taking one blatant declaration of feeling and repeating it for added effect. On track four, they repeat, “I know where your heartache exists, it’s when you’re alone or around me.” On track seven, “The Talk,” it’s “I’m not like you.” Track eight, “Nothing Feels Good Anymore,” it’s shockingly just that. Track ten, “In Remission,” it’s “If everyone needs a clutch, then I need a wheelchair.” All of this is layered over the most earnest of punk rock, heavy with vocal harmonization. And though there is an obvious formula to most of the songs on the record, it never becomes stale. Rather it transports you, listener with headphones, to the correct setting. These are lyrics meant for a live show. You can practically see the hoards of late teens/early twenty-somethings climbing over one another in the pit to scream closer to Barnett’s microphone.
That being said, the highlight of the album is the third track, “Rodent.” In terms of lyrical imagery, this one shoots the furthest outside the box. Still ripe with angst, Barnett compares the way he feels trapped in adulthood to the way a mouse is trapped in the walls of a house. The lyrics are powerful, and the harmonization is so, so good.
This is a record worth checking out, for sure.