Rating: B+

The Menzingers - After the PartyNostalgia is a powerful thing, and The Menzingers evoke it aggressively on their new album, After the Party. Everything from the cover art to the album title conjures memories of good times gone by, and the band even kicks things off with a chorus of “where are we gonna go now that our 20s are over?” But lead singers and songwriters Greg Barnett and Tom May are after something more than a simple, “Hey, remember the good ol’ days?” Instead, their songs aim to capture the fragmented nature of memory to paint a portrait of thirtysomething life and love, all wrapped up in a punk-rock package perfect for those who aren’t ready to stumble home from the party just yet.

Musically, the album takes most of its cues from Springsteen-indebted punk bands like The Gaslight Anthem, with hard-charging guitars, classic rock-inspired leads, and steady drums. But early-2000s emo and pop-punk also make their presence felt. The guitar riff in “Midwestern States” bears traces of Blink-182’s DNA and suggests what might have happened if that band had matured along with its listeners, while “Thick as Thieves” kicks off with the kind of too-clever-for-its-own-good poetry (“I held up a liquor store demanding top-shelf metaphors”) that has long been Fall Out Boy’s stock in trade. However, The Menzingers’ gift for melody and way with a hook transcend the fact that there really isn’t anything new going on here. The choruses of “Lookers,” “Midwestern States,” and “Your Wild Years” are serious earworms, and the pithy mission statements of “Tellin’ Lies” and “Charlie’s Army” are sure to inspire raucous singalongs at many, many live shows to come. Continue reading