The Menzingers are at the forefront of the rapidly growing genre of “Springsteen punk” – a subgenre of pop punk that reflects the maturity of the original audience. No longer preoccupied with getting dates, moving out of the parent’s basement, or high school drama… bands like The Menzingers sing about the real issues of adulting and being in the real world of real problems.
On Friday, they’ll be releasing their seventh album ‘Some Of It Was True’ – a collection of stories in the form of anthems. It’s been the longest gap between releases for the quartet thanks to Covid and their prioritising getting back on the road and soothing the touring itch as soon as they could.
Opening with ‘Hope Is A Dangerous Little Thing’ – a song to set the tone of the record – you can smell the dust off the amps and the old carpets in dive bars instantly. That’s something The Menzingers have consistently got right since their first demo in 2006. Each song reeks of small-town America (the band hail from Scranton, Penn. Which you may know from the US Office) and the hopelessness within them.
There’s something about vocalists Greg Barnett and Tom May’s voices that make you want to sing along. The lyrics of each song tap into something we’ve all felt when at our wit’s end with the grind of life and the universal – I struggle not to use the term “bullshit” – that we all have to get through. The first track is no exception with the gang vocals we’ve come to expect from the band… the kind of singing along you do with a pint in your hand, above your head, in the center of the pit, while you’re not caring about work tomorrow.
‘There’s No Place In This World For Me’ is a sentiment that we’ve all felt at least once, but the second track’s heavier intro reflects the serious subject matter. The song was finished when Barnett was talking to fans on the European tour – fans who had just fled Russia in opposition of the war and were now essentially stateless. Knowing this, the song carries a much greater weight and affirms that there’s people who are willing to act on their conscience and give up everything on their beliefs. You kinda owe it to them to sing this louder.
Title track ‘Some Of It Was True’ has more of a pop feeling to it with driving bass and lingering guitar. It makes for a nice breather after three punk songs that would have the more elder of us gasping in a concert setting. There’s still the singalong chorus, but the change of pace is appreciated. We don’t get a break for long when Try is hot on the heels of the previous track. Pop centric, but full of beans. There’s a bit of Ramones in the chorus here, paired with great lead guitar work adding a little class to proceedings.
‘Come On, Heartache’ is perhaps the most Springsteen-ish of all the tracks here and as close to a ballad as you’re going to get on this album. It doesn’t get soppy or weak…it has a solid backbone and stands up to the punk that surrounds it on this release. This song proves that putting your heart on your sleeve doesn’t require you to lose any of that masculinity that is often sacrificed in the name of sincerity. Followed by ‘Ultraviolet’ – a song that has similar tones to its predecessor with the refrain “The only thing I care about is you” – the tempo is pushed gently, and the guitars turned up to ease us back into a punk album that we can shout along to.
The breaks are pumped slightly in the last quarter of the album – ‘Love at the End’, ‘Alone in Dublin’ and ‘High Low’ all taking on more pop than punk – picking up again for ‘I Didn’t Miss You (Until You Were Gone)’. With this track we get back to the fast, folksy punk that we came for. The later chapters of the album really push the loneliness and futility narratives and that’s what The Menzingers do well. The final track ‘Runnin’ makes for a gentle landing and end to the night.
Listening to the album in its entirety is like a great night out… You’re hitting the town with all the energy of a wild animal being released, then as the night goes on and the drinks get poured you become more introspective and reserved. By the time we’re at the final acts, we’re pouring whiskeys for the last boys and girls standing – or slouched on couches – at the end of the night surrounded by dimmed lights and singing along quietly to themselves. The Menzingers’ music has always been a social event and this album is no different. It exists to let everyone know that they can find others who have felt – and feel – the same as they do, and this music does a fine job of being the glue keeping them together.
‘Some Of It Was True’ is released on Epitaph Records on Friday 13/10/2023
The Menzingers are touring the UK in February 2024:
Fri 2 Feb 2024 – London Electric Ballroom
Sat 3 Feb 2024 – London Electric Ballroom
Sun 4 Feb 2024 – Bristol The Marble Factory
Tue 6 Feb 2024 – Birmingham O2 Institute 2
Thu 8 Feb 2024 – Newcastle Northumbria Uni
Fri 9 Feb 2024 – Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom
Sat 10 Feb 2024 – Manchester Academy