In 2011, The Menzingers released “On The Impossible Past” (an album that pretty much everyone in the world agrees is the best thing ever) so expectations were sky-high for the Philadelphia band’s follow up. “Rented World” meets those expectations. It is 12 songs of biting emotional punk rock, but this time around, The Menzingers ramped up the musicianship and made an album that is at times quieter and more fragile than anything the band has ever released, and at other times so enormous that it’s just begging to be played in front of thousands of people.
The album kicks off with “I Don’t Wan’t To Be An Asshole Anymore”, the kind of scrappy pop-punk song The Menzingers are known for. Lyrically this song is full of the kind of poetry we heard a lot of on On The Impossible Past. Lines like “Last Friday night I wasn’t me/ I was a still -life trapped in eternity/ I was the focal point out of focus, out of ink” demonstrate songwriter Greg Barnett’s unique brand of lyricism. The sing along chorus is just begging to be played at the band’s intense live show.
“Rented World” sees The Menzingers expanding their sound, starting from the second song on the album, and the first song we hear written by the band’s other songwriter, Tom May. “Bad Things” starts from a quiet dreamy verse, before exploding into a huge grunge-influenced pre-chorus, and then back to pop-punk for one of the catchiest choruses on the album. The way The Menzingers successfully mix genres, without compromising the core sound of the band, is perhaps the greatest triumph of “Rented World”, making the album sound huge all throughout.
Other notable tracks on the album include “Transient Love” a 5 minute mid-tempo rocker which builds around a catchy drumbeat delivered by Joe Godino, with ambient guitars and a quiet, heartfelt chorus. “Nothing Feels Good Anymore” displays the kind of lyrical ability we’ve come to expect from Greg Barnett. The storytelling lyrics in the verses (“Baby baby buzz me in/ I ring your intercom and say/ But you just poke your head through a curtain/and my heart’s on the floor/nothing feels good anymore”) explode into one of the best choruses on the whole album.
The album closes with “When You Died” a quiet acoustic song where Barnett asks simple questions, but ones which we all ask when we lose a loved one: “Where do people go when they die?/How do you keep them alive?/ How do you make nothing like this will ever happen again?”
“Rented World” shows The Menzingers taking a leap forward musically, and delivering the same kind of emotional lyrics that we loved on “On The Impossible Past”. Is this album better than OTIP? Maybe. Maybe not. People are inevitably going to try to rank the two and make comparisons and contrasts, but at the end of the day, “Rented World” gives us 12 more great songs by a band who is poised to become one of the biggest in our scene, and that can only be a good thing.
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