The Menzingers know a thing about aging in style. On February 3, the band from Pennsylvania released their fifth full length studio album, After the Party. It’s hard to believe Rented World came out three years ago On the Impossible Past, one of my own college soundtracks, came out five.
The band released “Lookers” as a single on August 11, 2016 prior to announcing the new record, but we knew it was coming. Two months later, on October 27, they made the announcement along with the album’s song living and cover art. They also dropped “bad Catholics” that night.
In an Uproxx interview, vocalist and guitarist Greg Barnett describes the record as “a love letter to our twenties.” The song it’s named after, “After the Party” feels like a weekend early-20-something romance kindering, well, after a party. Its chorus, “Everybody wants to get famous / But you just want to dance in a basement,” echoes a late night, muse-like inspiration.
The lyrics’ imagery also speaks to reminiscing youth. The “Bad Catholics” video takes place at a church picnic, but quickly turns into a playful food fight. During a conversation with Kerrang!, vocalist and guitarist Tom May explains that growing up doesn’t mean slowing down or getting bored, which is emphasized in a nostalgic reflection of the past. Meanwhile, “Your Wild Years” illustrates a scene of the narrator escaping to a lover’s adolescent bedroom with “boxes labeled ‘former you’,” reflecting on earlier times as youthful memories.
I related to the cut, “Midwestern States” personally, having moved to Philadelphia from Omaha, Nebraska. At their show on March 31 at the Fillmore in the Fishtown neighborhood, Barnett mentioned he wrote the song about his last semester of college, swapping “worthless universities” with “Temple University” in a verse.
However, unlike rock acts from the Heartland, Barnett isn’t chanting about being tired of the Midwest and wanting to escape it as a native. It’s about driving straight through the region, as fast as you can, on a cross-country road trip. The chorus repeats, “You said LA’s only two days if we drive straight / Denver if we get tired / said you don’t mind stopping as long as we got out of the Midwestern states.” Plus, Los Angeles is roughly a day-and-sixteen-four drive from the heart of Philadelphia, so it makes sense.
Overall, After the Party serves as a record suitable for a road trip, to be listened to all the way through. Of course, there are one-off tracks, but the theme speaks to lots of aging pop punk fans in particular, like myself but not quite as old as the band members themselves, who find start to realize they might be the oldest person in the pit at a show.
After the Party is available now.