Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On The Impossible Past - The Menzingers (Review)

The Menzingers have been creating quite the name for themselves recently. They are known for writing truthful and honest "in your face" punk rock tunes. They have been starting to get noticed with their previous effort, Chamberlain Waits, which topped all kinds of lists and such. This will be The Menzingers first release on "mega-indie" label, Epitaph Records. Anyone expecting this to drastically change the bands sound will soon be proved very wrong. They are the same great punk band no matter who they are working with. Hopefully this transition only means it will just be exposed to more people and help people understand the power of the band. Although you see a wider range of influences on this record, they still have that raw pop-punk feel that their fans have grown to love.

On The Impossible Past begins with "Good Things". It is a quick song about how good things usually don't last. You can hear the emotion in his voice very well throughout this song. The verse's muddy guitar and the massive sounding chorus definitely ensure that the listener will continue to listen. It certainly got me hooked and forced me to listen to the rest of the album.

"Burn After Writing" has some really really nice harmonies through the verses. The song almost falls into the Blink-182 territory with it's pop-punk melodies and guitar parts (except not with pretentiousness of Tom Delonge). The constant harmony is definitely the highlight of the song. Also, the chorus WILL be in your head for a while.

The next song is "The Obituaries". This is one of the highlights on the album, although it was very hard to pick highlights on such a constantly great album. The chorus is just so huge. Another chorus stuck in my head for a pretty long time. And the lyrics are also awesome and descriptive. This was one of the songs I had heard before I had heard the whole album, and it is one of the primary reasons I had to go back and listen to this album immediately after the choice was given to me.

Another song I heard a while before giving the whole album a listen is the song titled "Gates". This song is probably the slowest song on this entire record. That is not a bad thing, by the way. This song kicks just as much ass as the rest of the album, just in a different manner. It just sounds more like a 90's alternative song than a modern punk rock song though. This song may take a few listens to actually "get it". But as I was saying, I had heard this well before the whole album, so I had some time to get familiar with this song. Even so, It still feels fresh with every listen.

"Ava House" begins with only drums and vocals with, sort of, a chant vibe. That "chant" vibe continues through the majority of the song, mostly due to the drumming in the song. It is pretty cool. It manages to build pretty high throughout the song, though. The vocals in this song seem to feel very emotional and dark at times, especially in the choruses.

"Sun Hotel" has a very poppy and catchy melody, but the music is, honestly, just as punk as the rest of the album. This song relies heavily on the melody. This song also has some pretty strong lyrics. I thought the line "From the shame, the fear, the guilt that's tough to mention / The kind that always pry your eyelids open" was a quality lyric. Some of the melodies in this song, and especially the outro, have a poppy, almost Beach Boys vibe.

After that comes "Sculptors and Vandals". If this song stayed sounding like what the beginning of the song sounds like, It would probably be rated softer than "Gates". It starts off very slow and soft, but it doesn't stay like that very long. About a minute through the song it picks up to, ironically, probably the fastest portion of the album.

"Mexican Guitars"  is one of the best songs on the whole record lyrically. With lines like "I'm so sick of living in this ditch / with the only memory in the back of my head". It does an amazing job of painting an incredible picture in your head. And the picture is quite beautiful.

The next song, "On The Impossible Past", is the title track, but acts more like an interlude. It is very short and very emotional. They lyrics are very emotional, talking about regrets. It seems to talk about one regret in particular. It seems that it talks about a drunk driving incident he was involved with. It is one of the coolest songs on the album considering how much gets said in a minute in a half.

The previous song leads straight in "Nice Things" The transition between "On The Impossible Past" and this song could quite possibly the best part of the record.. I'm not sure if it was supposed to have a closely related title to the opening song, "Good Things", or not, but either way they don't share much in common that I can see. They are both very good songs though. This song has a certain drive to it that you don't hear very often in punk music. It is one of my personal favorite songs off of the album.

The next song is "Casey". This is another lyrically heavy song....very lyrically heavy. It is most likely the best lyrics on the album. This song creates such a detailed and descriptive illustration in your mind. It talks about a past relationship, which seems like a reoccurring theme on this album. The lyrics for this song are so perfect, it is hard to focus on anything else. 

"I Can't Seem To Tell" seems to have the same sort of kick as "Nice Things". You can almost see different influences such as The Pixies in this song, with the steady bass leading the verses. And the second verse's lyrics have some Pixie-esqu lines in it also. It is really the final drive of the album, with the next song being a slower, more epic type song. 

The final song is "Freedom Bridge". Although these lyrics are too deep for my understanding, it all seems to hit just as hard as the songs where I actually do know what is going on. The last verse seems to be talking about suicide of some sort, most likely containing a deeper meaning than "just suicide". My lack of depth aside, this is still a great song.

I will be honest and admit, this is the first release I have actually listened to by this band. Not because I had something against them, just because I didn't get around to it. But after this release, I promise you, I will order their entire back catalog and buy any future releases. This record was very nice. It is nothing revolutionary or really different, It is just fun. It is a whole album full of catchy pop punk songs that I crave way too often. I haven't heard an album released full of this youthful pop punk sound in way too long. You can only listen to Dookie so many times before a new breed of pop punk is necessary.

Highlights : The Obituaries, Mexican Guitars, Nice Things, Casey

Music : 8 (good simple new pop punk music...what we all needed!)
Lyrics : 8 (nostalgic themes about regrets and past times for the most part)
Artwork : 4 (The worst part of the album is easily the awful cover art)

Overall : 8

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