Review Summary: Can’t shake the impossible past.
When Rented World
kicks off with the bluntly titled “I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore”, it harkens sharply to The Menzingers more hammer-to-head portions of their prior record On the Impossible Past. The “Obituaries” chorus of “I will fu
ck this up, I fu
cking know it” rings closest to the tracks namesake yelp but beyond Greg Barnett’s unabashedly honest lyrics, a sense of ‘now’-ness separates the two songs. Where On the Impossible Past
operated through a nostalgic lens, Rented World
throws you head first into the present. First single “In Remission” grooves atop a slyly simplistic riff while “spitting dinner” in life’s face and it’s obviously a right now problem with right now implications. It’s not hidden behind warm fondness for time gone by but rather cold cynicism for current predicaments. The drums pound and the guitars crash in the all-too-typical punk fashion but this time they don’t linger beyond the present.
Apparently 2014 is year for simplifying and ‘reigning in’ in alternative rock. No one wants to make the sprawling epic anymore and rocking out has increasingly become a striving point. The Menzingers got the memo and, as such, Rented World
sheds the frills, the refinement, the deftness, and leaves us with only the essentials of their winning formula. “The Talk” pounds with early Green Day tenacity and “Transient Love” is led by an uncomplicated yet catchy rhythm section unhindered by layered instrumentation or emotion beyond the vocals. And it’s thanks to the sincerity of the hooks, albeit in riff or voice, which keep the album only just on the right side of the line separating callous underdevelopment and simplistic beauty. It’s entirely an exercise in immediacy. “Never again will I let anyone close to me” Barnett shouts in “Rodent” and it’s clear this extends to his band’s most recent outing. Rented World
sees The Menzingers holding the listener at arm’s length, keeping us from being anything more than a bystander to a story rather than right there with them. And sometimes just telling it ‘like it is’ is ok.