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British influenced folk-pop-punk with a hint of hardcore may be the only way to describe The Menzingers new album Chamberlain Waits. As much as I wish that there could just be a specific genre to place them under, such a simple write off as “punk” would be unfair and careless. Worthy of praise and admiration, Chamberlain Waits is a non-stop example of “smart punk.” Keeping true to their roots, The Menzingers often stay in a comfortable, regular song structure, but layer each and every chord with coarse vocals atop full and rhythmic drums. Yet, where most bands fail, The Menzingers keep listeners on their toes with style changes between songs, intriguing over lapping guitars, and vocal shifts. Songs which seem relaxed and folky can suddenly move into an all out angst laden attack, chalk full of heavy guitars and throaty bellows from lead singer/guitar Tom May.
Opening track Who’s Your Partner may be the catchiest tune on Chamberlain Waits. Starting out with the palm muted power chords sync’d with bass drum kicks, May lets the flow latch on before employing his Billy Bragg-esque voice. Simplistic and easy, Who’s Your Partner screams for attention, because its just a working man’s anthem for the blind and bruised, just listen to the closing lyrics “Let these simple songs get caught in our head/Place the frames of our worthless bets/All my life never gave a f*uck/someone please wake me up.” Letting new fans get used to their style, The Menzingers continue with three “standard” songs, before jumping ship to a heavier and discouraged tone. Deep Sleep is a cry for help, anchored down with screams and despair-ridden vocals. Lightly distorted guitars melodramatically strummed hold themselves back, so lyrical content can be more easily deciphered. Yet, before you worry about an “emo” song getting stuck in Chamberlain Waits, remember that The Menzingers are from the pseudo-industrial city of Scranton, Pennsylvania; where smog is more pungent than teenage girls perfume. Deep Sleep isn’t about breaking up with a girl, its about getting out of the quicksand of life…
Male Call sounds more like a sailor-tune drunkingly sung at a pub before setting sail than a rambunctious punk song. Reminiscently folk, Male Call makes The Menzingers seem more like rum drenched Bragg’s than tequila drowned Fat Mike’s. It is an impressive break in Chamberlain Waits, and makes evident the musical “knowledge” contained in the collective effort of The Menzingers.
So far, after about 15 listens, Chamberlain Waits hasn’t gotten old, and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. Dying Scene gave The Menzingers the Band Spotlight recently and it was well merited. This album is worth picking up immediately.