It’s very easy to let landmark birthdays get the better of you – the transition from your fun-loving twenties into the dreaded thirties is arguably the most daunting. Loaded with pressure to be ‘grown up’ or ‘responsible’, the point that you should maybe mellow out and ditch the NOFX t-shirt for a nice plaid shirt. Y’know, generally settle down and have this whole adult thing sussed out. Well, The Menzingers are here to remind you that it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way, or at least make you feel a little better that you don’t completely have your shit together just yet.
Maybe it’s because the writer (or typer) of these words has just recently made the sad switch to the ol’ dirty thirties, but ‘After The Party’ doesn’t half hit multiple nails on the head throughout its 13 tracks. There’s a sense of wistful nostalgia throughout that harks back to those often glorious and sometimes not-so-glorious twenties. That sense of romantic nostalgia and songs that paint such vivid pictures in their storytelling, combined with a turn-it-up-loud sound, makes for the perfect combination.
The tone is set early doors with a downright fantastic opener in ‘20’s (Tellin’ Lies)’. Encapsulating the theme of the album, the Scranton punkers introduce ‘After The Party’ in an insanely catchy way with lyrics about buying weed as an adult and settling for being rich in another life time as they field questions about how to move forward in life now that their twenties are over.
The lead-off single ‘Lookers’ takes the fond recollection of the wilder, fun days down a more romantic route – it’s pretty much The Menzingers perfected and provides further proof that ‘After The Party’ is essentially the band crafting an album of fist-pump inducing bar anthems that The Gaslight Anthem would be proud of, but with a gnarlier edge.
The anthems come thick and fast on the first side of the album with ‘Charlie’s Army’ being a particular stand-out as a seemingly unrequited love for a woman named Julie spells nothing but trouble from her other half. Further down the line, Greg Barnett tells the tale of a man at odds with his ex for being less than angel back in the day but portraying quite the opposite now with her ‘whatshisname’ husband on ‘Bad Catholics’. We all know someone like that, right?
As the draws to a close, there’s a sense of maturity creeping in, ever-so-slightly. It’s probably quite easy to read into the album title and its title track as being the point of growing up and settling down – the lyrics of “After the party, it’s me and you” hint at some sort of post-twenties mellowing but on their own terms with references to dancing on tables and getting drunk.
Getting older doesn’t need to mean becoming boring and life-less. The Menzingers are certainly helping to breathe life into that notion – ‘After The Party’ strikes a chord or three with the twenty-somethings and thirty-year olds of this world by making you want to grab a beer, gather some old friends and remember the good times whilst knowing the party is not quite over yet.
‘After The Party’ is released on February 3rd via Epitaph Records.