tue 15/10/2019

CD: The Menzingers - Hello Exile | reviews, news & interviews

CD: The Menzingers - Hello Exile

CD: The Menzingers - Hello Exile

Pennsylvania punks channel ageing disgracefully into grown-up punk rock

The Menzingers: neither ageing out nor selling out

Punk rock, more so than any other genre, comes with a built-in age limit. There’s only so long you can play weeknights at basement venues for a share of the door and travel expenses; only so many years your back can withstand so many nights on strangers’ sofas. Those that don’t age out, sell out: their youthful excesses repackaged to shill hatchbacks and low-fat spread. Thank god, then, for The Menzingers: a four-piece born in the Scranton, Pennsylvania punk scene who opted to channel their 30s into roots-rock with a latent edge, capturing the free-fall into adulthood proper with a certain deft magic.

It helps that chief songwriters and vocalists Greg Barnett and Tom May sing like late-night drunks at a high school reunion. Barnett’s the sloppy drunk, selling the hell out of contrived rhymes like “if I come into your periphery, please just act like you don’t see me” on after-the-breakup anthem “Strangers Forever”. “It’s like our studio apartment’s just a place to keep your stuff,” he half-rages, half-laments on “Anna”, a song about growing up - and growing apart - that packs a decade worth of regrets into a tight three and a half minutes. May is the angry drunk: “set a course for the sun”, he bellows over a militaristic beat on “Strawberry Mansion”, condemning humanity for its part in the climate crisis.

Although the album tips its political hand right from its opening track - it’s typical Menzingers that a line like “lately I feel like I’m a puppet in Vichy France” feels as primed for a punk rock singalong as “what kind of monsters did our parents vote for?” - its strongest tracks tend to be those that look inwards. “High School Friend” taps the same nostalgic vein as “Bad Catholics”, from 2017’s After The Party - rose-tinted “revisionist history”, its up-tempo melody shot through with a pang of longing by the second verse. “I Can’t Stop Drinking” is a deliberate mood-killer, if a little over-long, in which Barnett trades his usual quotable poetry for lyrics staggering in how much they reveal.

Below: watch the video for "Anna" by The Menzingers

The Menzingers capture the free-fall into adulthood proper with a certain deft magic

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.