Nostalgia sits at the heart of Pennsylvania punk-rockers The Menzingers’ fifth full-length release, After the Party. While pure punk-enthusiasts may be turned off by the sentimentality compared to the band’s previous releases, the rest of us will not. Those left unimpressed by the record may point to the album’s recurrent nostalgic theme and harmonies.
Yet even when the harmonies get repetitive, After the Party oozes with an authenticity that will keep fans and unfamiliar listeners playing this record for years to come. The band’s knack for introspective songwriting paired with crunchy guitars produces a record that can make a well-exhausted theme—what band today hasn’t sung of nostalgia?—feel new and gut-wrenching in the most satisfying way.
The opening track “Tellin’ Lies” stays true to the band’s ska-punk roots while not deterring those who dislike the genre. Springsteen fans, meanwhile, will rejoice in the guitar-driven anthemic nature of songs like “Thick as Thieves”, which showcases the album’s talent for lyrics with lines like “I held up a liquor store demanding top shelf metaphors.” A song like “Lookers” could easily delve into the realm of self-pity, lamenting over a lost love and a ripped-away youth. Yet, “Lookers” remains fun, upbeat and one of the clear standouts of the album. “Charlie’s Army” and “Bad Catholics” bring the humor and complete the emotional spectrum by singing of the vengeful ex of a current girlfriend and reminiscing over ditching church before communion started.
The album has the power to make you nostalgic for your twenties even if you (like me) have yet to leave them. Through the lows and highs of the record, the message of After the Party is clear: Getting older doesn’t have to mean growing up.
“The Wild Years”
Captain, We’re Sinking
The Gaslight Anthem