When I saw the PR blurb spruiking The Menzingers’ new album Rented World with terms like ‘emo’ and ‘grunge’, I was a little concerned.
Their last effort, On The Impossible Past, was quietly one of the best punk rock albums of 2012, brimming with grittiness and working-class sincerity. So has the band swapped its Lawrence Arms t-shirts for mascara, or maybe some other clichОd article of grunge-associated clothing? Well, thankfully, Rented World is far from ‘emo’ and ‘grunge’ (…and some marketing intern really needs to be fired).
However, the album does offer more than a nod to the mid-’90s. Whether it was a conscious decision by the band or a direction that studio engineer Jon Low (The National, Kurt Vile) guided it towards, Rented World is clean, bombastic and, well… produced. But it ain’t all a bad thing. This is an album with texture. Opener ‘I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore’ sets a fast pace, but the LP soon settles into a solid mid-tempo. The catchy ‘Bad Things’ is a prime example of the new songwriting direction: a song with multiple sections, exploring the boundaries of structure, yet somehow avoiding indulgence.
The Menzingers are a band looking to break the confines of punk rock. Rented World is the transition piece.
Rented World is out now through Epitaph.