“But I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore / Baby, baby I’ll be good to you”
The Menzingers last made their splash on the scene in 2012 with On The Impossible Past, an album that made a noteworthy appearance on almost everyone’s end-of-the-year lists. Now they’re back with Rented World, a 12-track record that has a lot to live up to. And it doesn’t let down. The standout punk tracks “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” and “In Remission” were cleverly chosen as pre-release singles. but the other tracks are far from fillers. Luckily for fans new and old, the hype started with On The Impossible Past didn’t fall flat and these four punks from Scranton, PA have given us another album to fawn over all year.
As mentioned, “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore” was released early as a single, and with good reason; it gives listeners a taste of what’s to come and opens up Rented World in the best way possible. The Menzingers’ riotous new anthem shouts instead of pleads at the feet of a significant other, promising self-improvement, “But I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore / Baby, baby I’ll be good to you.” The lyrics on their own are akin to groveling, but this isn’t a lovesick ballad. It’s frustrated, fiery, and in your face. Listening evokes contorted sing-a-long faces and dreams of betterment.
“My Friend Kyle” comes with with a more sincere message, tackling the subject matter of losing a close friend. A steady hard-hitting beat underscores the standout lyric, “Sleep now, it’s only getting better man,” it also nods to a prior song “My Friend Chris.” Another serious jam on Rented World is “The Talk.” This song is lyrical hopscotch, harboring rhythmic, almost taunting vocals. It opens with matter-of-fact snarkiness: “Alright, I’m okay / We did it your way / I never loved you anyway.” Brutal honesty that avoids pretty metaphors is part of what makes The Menzingers so relatable – they fearlessly say the things we wish we could say, whether it’s directed at an ex-lover or angstily towards the whole world.
“In Remission” is a piece of gold that appears later on the album; it’s a new song but one whose sound could easily fit into the tracklisting of a previous record. Vocalist Greg Barnett sings, “If everyone needs a crutch, then I need a wheelchair,” starting off in a melancholy tone but building to a climax that throws singing out the window and becomes something more like emotional shouting. Tension builds throughout the song, leading to a cathartic finale of admitting faults in tune with a thrashing of drums and guitars.
If there is a theme in Rented World, it’s the overall feeling of recognizing shortcomings while powering through them. The message is positive while remaining subtle, its optimism hidden in Barnett’s howling vocals. The Menzingers have continued to prove themselves with this record and if they aren’t considered huge yet, it’s only a matter of time before they are.
Buy It, Stream It, or Skip It?
Not every song immediately lives up to On The Impossible Past but you should still Buy It.