Highlights: I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore, Rodent, Nothing Feels Good Anymore, In Remission
Well, who cares about long-winded novels, films starring two actors and albums released in the previous century?.. Rented World is what it’s about. The Menzingers’ new album.
Honestly – what a band. Back in August, I had to schedule my flight back from Dublin in such a way that I could catch them live. The one-hour pub gig was intoxicating to the point where everything else sounded bland two weeks after. With Guinness in one hand and the chorus of “Obituaries” rolling all over the room, this was the perfect Menzingers experience. They basically did On The Impossible Past in its entirety. You can’t blame them, that album is a modern punk rock classic, with attitude and the kind of anthemic tunefulness I haven’t encountered on any Bad Religion album.
This is The Menzingers’ fourth album, and I guess surpassing On The Impossible Past was not an option. They had to go through a drastic change of style and do something completely different to try and achieve that. Instead, this is more of a welcome extension that offers 12 new songs and a slightly darker, more introspective tone. Song titles like “Good Things” and “Nice Things” are gone. This time, it’s “Bad Things” and “Nothing Feels Good Anymore”. They even find time for a lighters-up, male-tears acoustic closer “When You’re Dead”. Which might come off as a dreadful punk cliché, but thankfully the song is too good for that.
Rented World loses out in consistency department. On The Impossible Past unfurled like a great novel, every page equally powerful and gripping. This time it feels like a short story collection with some stories outshining the slightly weaker ones. The slightly weaker ones would be in the middle. “Transient Love” is something of an emotional, drum-heavy ballad that just doesn’t have too many thrills throughout its slow burning 5 minutes. “The Talk” is aggressive and brief, but also straightforward and smacks too much of what Green Day might do on a good day. Finally, “Sentimental Physics” suffers a bit from the penultimate-track syndrome. But those are all minor flaws. Most of Rented World is cathartic and catchy, exactly what you would expect from The Menzingers on a songwriting roll. “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” and “Where Your Heartache Exists” (so good they didn’t even bother with a third verse, doing a middle eight instead) are pure anthemic glory, unrelenting and memorable. “Rodent” is another exultant run of melodies and vocal/instrumental hooks, always building up and never giving you a chance to breathe.
And then there’s “In Remission”. Basically, all the proof you needed. That cool-as-fuck ‘up’ at the end of the first verse? The intensity exploding with the hysterical ‘oh yeah’ screams? The ‘if everyone needs a crutch, then I need a wheelchair’ chant, surely your favourite lyric of the year? The ultimate Menzingers’ song, packed to the brim with the sort of ideas most bands would only dream of.
Rented World is a confident album by a band that knows exactly what it’s doing and where it wants to go.