The Menzingers

Hello Exile

Written by: PP on 13/01/2020 18:44:02

For their sixth album "Hello Exile", The Menzingers have elected to write a career extension rather than an innovative, exciting new album, thus tripping on the same stones as The Gaslight Anthem did on their path (see: "Get Hurt"). Through questionable choices in both songwriting and production department, the resulting record is one that feels completely devoid of the signature-style urgency and immediacy that captivated music fans at least until "Rented World".

Let's start with the obvious: the horrid production. The vocals are pushed back into a dreamy, echoing state, ironing out the scratchy and edgy parts off of Greg Barnett's and Tom May's vocal delivery. The classic, emotionally-charged scratchy screams that highlighted particular lines in the songs - basically the best bits of The Menzingers' soundscape - are now replaced with hollering and hum-friendly indie rock that feels like another day in the office. Save for maybe "America (You're Freaking Me Out)" and "Strangers Forever", the rest of the songs feel like the band are on autopilot with none of the passion and raw energy audible, about half of which is attributable for the way too polished and clean production value.

What about the other half, then? Well, that's just lazy songwriting. The songs are mellow, balladic and seem intended for widening arena spaces than sweaty basement sing-alongs like in the past. It's the classic trying to write too big syndrome/trap that many bands fall for when they first face breakthrough success. The result is songs that feel not just soulless but also totally forgettable. Someone is hollering high up in the faded soundscape somewhere, but you're never invested in the songs in the same way as you were for, say, "In Remission" or "Mexican Guitars" to name just a couple of past greats.

As a result, "Hello Exile" is going to be the album where The Menzingers fan base divides into two: the old fans who no longer can connect with the band's cleaner, more mainstream sound (a journey that began with "After The Party"), and those who joined the band late and missed out on the intimate basement shows or their early FEST headliner-style slots where the band were at their very best. It's not a terrible album, it's just so far separated from the best material this band has written on earlier albums.


Download: America (You're Freaking Me Out), High School Friend, Strangers Forever
For the fans of: The Gaslight Anthem, Spanish Love Songs, Joyce Manor,
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.10.2019

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