Album Review: The Menzingers - After The Party

Words by Maddy Howell

In times of political unrest, eyes begin to turn to punk for its brash and brazen protest songs about revolution and smashing the system. In the midst of riots and demonstrations, it can sometimes be forgotten that punk rock isn’t all about overthrowing the establishment, and sometimes all we need is a voice of reassurance.

Philadelphia punk heavyweights The Menzingers have spent the last decade honing their ferociously energetic sound, with 2014’s 'Rented World' further cementing their name amongst some of the finest in the scene. After three years of anticipation, the quartet returns with their anthemic 5th album 'After the Party', at a time when all the world needs is a little bit of rowdy and jubilant punk.

With just a week having passed since Trump’s inauguration, we’ve already seen Obamacare dismantled, woman’s rights obliterated and a ban enforced on Muslim refugees, making vocalist Greg Barnett’s cries of “oh yeah, oh yeah, everything is terrible” on the album’s opening track seem perfectly timed. But from the off-set it’s clear that 'After the Party' is no place for wallowing in a pit of political despair, more an escape from the swiftly collapsing world around it.

Each track on the album is exceptional in its own right, but it’s the delivery of each honest and emotionally resonant line that sits The Menzingers in a league of their own. Lookers is a bittersweet reminiscent track that reflects on the idea of getting older but never quite growing up. Barnett’s gruff powerhouse vocals present a self-assured and vivacious charm, perfectly interwoven with the relentlessly endearing riffs to create a seemingly effortless nostalgia surge.

A factor that enables The Menzingers to remain so endearing is the sense of familiarity that rings out in each note of everything they release. By neglecting a drastic change in sound and sticking to their defining qualities, 'After the Party' begins to feel like a grandparent’s worn out armchair, with the cigarette burns and coffee stains doing little but add to its charm.

Whilst not a political record, it’s almost a protest against time, with each track celebrating the present and condemning the idea of having to grow up and give in to “real life”. Whether it’s the thunderous drum beats of Thick as Thieves, the delectable harmonies of Charlie’s Army or the captivating sincerity of Midwestern States, 'After the Party' gives a perfectly honed sense of nostalgia in a brutally honest and often heart-breaking fashion.

In a genre that’s becoming increasingly saturated with clich├ęs, it’s refreshing to hear an album that sounds so carefree yet so intimately careful. 'After the Party' takes everything the band have built over the past ten years and gives it a new lick of paint, covering up any cracks that may have arisen over their absence. Revived in a clarity of old-school romanticism and intricately honest storytelling, The Menzingers are once again unstoppable.