The Menzingers

Chamberlain Waits

Written by: PP on 19/01/2011 04:11:16

"So let these simple songs get caught in our heads...". This simple lyric from the album opener "Who's Your Partner" gives you a great idea of what's going on throughout "Chamberlain Waits", the sophomore album by the universally acclaimed The Menzingers. This is an album that would've passed underneath my radar if it wasn't for its inclusion on at least eight separate top 10 of 2010 lists that I ran across on different websites, punk related and otherwise. While I'm not convinced enough to call it the album of the year, "Chamberlain Waits" is one of the keepers from 2010 when it comes to shout-along punk rock despite its difficult accessibility.

Why difficult? The ingredients for an instantly memorable album are all there: rough, passionate clean vocals that occasionally spill over into full-blown screaming meet medium tempo melodies with sharp edges around the corners that resemble a ton of different Midwestern punk bands, should be a shoo in for most people following this genre, right? Not quite. While most other bands in the genre tend to be like The Flatliners or Off With Their Heads - straight-forward and instantly memorable - The Menzingers spend lots of time in concentrating on the big picture. Their songs have some catchy parts, sure, but the reward for the listener is in how the album grows on you over time. The reason it's a grower instead of an infectiously catchy one is because the passion, the idea of playing music for music's sake, isn't necessarily obvious from the first couple of listens. You have to pay attention to the details, how small pieces of melody interact with each other to combine for something special, how vocalist Godino's voice morphs from a gravelly clean into a harsh scream during lyrics that are important for him.

Effectively, this is both to the detriment and the benefit of the album simultaneously. On one hand, it creates a number of unforgettable moments of the kind where you'll always remember what you were doing or where you were when you first 'got it', but on the other hand, it hinders the simple appeal doing its positive damage on listeners, the one that most other bands in the genre possess album in album out. So it's a two-way deal really, one sure to keep The Menzingers near the top of the league, but one preventing them in writing a "Civil War" (Dillinger Four) or "Apathy And Exhaustion" (The Lawrence Arms).

Still, "Chamberlain Waits" is a damn solid album. It has a sense of familiarity for the first time listener due to its manner of wearing all of its influences proudly on its sleeve. "Deep Sleep", for instance, is a gift for anyone missing the really old school, pissed off, screaming Tom Gabel from the first Against Me! album, and elsewhere you'll hear direct influence from any of the bands I've mentioned so far in the review. When put together, these influences create an emotionally warm, inviting sound that's easy to take a liking to, but a difficult one to love instantly. So give "Chamberlain Waits" about five or six listens before you form your overall opinion on it, and remember: growers are always those you'll remember the longest.


Download: Who's Your Partner, Deep Sleep
For the fans of: The Riot Before, Off With Their Heads, Captain We're Sinking, (old) Against Me!
Listen: Myspace

Release date 13.04.2010
Red Scare Records

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