Everyone has their weaknesses. The things that make them go all wobbly at the knees no matter the quality. I adore coming of age films and teenagers being cut up, and if you write an album about packing up and hitting the road with Springsteen, the odds are I’ll be right there with you. If you do it to an exceptional standard, then I’ll be putty in your hands.
Step forward The Menzingers. On their fifth album, they’ve made a drive into the great tradition of nostalgia-fuelled American songwriters, and my God are they good at. When the chorus of ‘Tellin’ Lies’ kicks in for the first time with the repeated refrain ‘what we gonna do now our twenties are over’, you instantly know that this is a song that is going to be with us for a long time: and it’s only the opening track.
The Menzingers have the ability to write songs about classic American ideas and make a guy who grew up in Aberdeen Scotland feel like their his story. I’m a horn throwing carrier of the very not Catholic club and yet when ‘Bad Catholics’ kicks in I could swear that I understand every word. I convince myself that maybe I did spend my childhood sneaking out of Mass and dealing with the consequences. Greg Barnett’s vocals have a sincerity to them that never feels forced, and it makes you believe in a world you might know nothing about.
After The Party is an album to fall in love to. It’s an album to blare on the stereo as you turn towards the coast. It’s an album to listen to late at night as you reflect on the first time you did everything. Most importantly, though, it’s an album that means you don’t actually have to do any of those things. It will take you on that journey, and for a moment you can believe you grew up in a Mid-Western town and dreamt of getting away.