Review Summary: The Menzingers' debut album is surprisingly varied and consistent. In fact, it doesn’t sound like a debut album at all.
When listening to The Menzingers’ debut “A Lesson In The Abuse of Information Technology”, it’s really hard to believe it’s the band’s first effort. Not only is the album surprisingly consistent, but it’s full of solid musicianship and a confidence level that’s rarely found on a band’s first release. For those who have heard The Menzinger’s, they already know what to expect from the PA based punk band and the debut album doesn’t disappoint. It’s packed with the upbeat, witty punk songs the band is known for and it contains a more raw, honest sound than their newer releases.
As the album starts off with ‘Alpha Kaaj Fall Off A Balcony’, it’s clear the band weren’t playing it safe on their debut. Not only does it contain dialogue by George Bush but the vocalists actually rap their way through some of the lines and lay down some harsh punk vocals on others. As strange as this might sound, the band pulls it off surprisingly well. It may not be the albums best offering, but thankfully it comes across as more fun than political and to pull off an opening track like that is no easy task. Other songs such as ‘Even For An Eggshell’ and ‘Clap Hands Two Guns’ are sure to please fans as they’re full of the catchy gang vocals and energetic guitars the band is known for.
Unlike many of their peers, The Menzinger’s are fortunate enough to have two vocalists and it really enhances their sound. Two of my favorite tracks ‘Straight to Hell’ and ‘No Ticket’ sound entirely different but they are equally enjoyable. The first of the two contains one of the most addicting choruses on the album as the band shouts "There ain’t no need for you, there ain’t no need for you. Go straight to hell boy! Go straight to hell boy!" Although the song was originally done by The Clash, the band puts their own twist on it by taking everything up a notch. The once slow paced song is now brimming with a newfound energy whcih makes it more enjoyable than the original. Accompanying the outgoing and gruff vocal performance are the expected upbeat guitars and some above average drumming. The other song ‘No Ticket’ is much more relaxed and relies almost entirely on poppy vocals which are sung over an acoustic guitar. For those who are used to the band’s harsher vocals, the song might come as a surprise but it’s the perfect way to close the album. In fact, the smart lyrics and infectious vocals make it one of the most memorable tracks.
Although “A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology” is far from perfect, it’s impressive what The Menzinger’s were able to accomplish on their first effort. It’s full of soaring vocals, a high energy level, and a good amount of variety. At times they sound reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem, and at times they sound more like Anti-Flag, but they always sound like The Menzingers. If you haven’t heard the band yet this is the perfect place to start. However, even if you’ve already heard their newer albums, they’re likely to win you over yet again with their energetic debut.