The Menzingers
Hello Exile


4.0
excellent

Review

by Channing Freeman STAFF
October 6th, 2019 | 604 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sometimes, life works out well. For everyone else, there's "revisionist history."

In a fit of premature triumphalism in the early ‘90s, Francis Fukuyama wrote about the so-called “end of history” and victory of liberal democracy, an understandable claim for a Reagan adviser to make but a myopic one for any self-respecting scholar. Almost three decades later, Greg Barnett is singing about being “on the lonely end of history,” deriding the “crime scene of new penthouses next to tents in the streets,” the most enduring image of the neoliberal economics championed by people like Fukuyama. The Menzingers have always written rock songs about emptiness that nonetheless feel pregnant with deeper meaning. Hello Exile is an even more obvious turn toward a materialist form of songwriting that grounds the depressing realities of everyday life within a wider historical context.

That is not to say that The Menzingers are suddenly writing missives about redistributive policies, but you could see it even a decade ago in the title of their album Chamberlain Waits, conjuring a Pennsylvania arms manufacturing plant patiently waiting to devour an increasingly complacent youth that has given up idealism for the necessity of stable work. As “America (You’re Freaking Me Out)” shows, that tradeoff is the expected endpoint of youth. You might be against the factory, but you’ll work there because there’s no other choice. And when your life falls apart around you, when you “can’t stop drinking,” like Barnett, you’ll think the problem is within yourself rather than being a symptom of larger systemic ills.

You can even hear it in Will Yip’s oft-derided production choices. Greg and Tom sometimes sound like they’re singing in one room while the band plays in another. In “Strawberry Mansion”, there is even a corny effects moment where Yip cranks the volume knob on Tom’s voice in the bridge, as if he decided to join them halfway through the song. These choices are strange, but the sonic alienation underpins the literal and metaphorical barriers in the lyrics, especially Barnett’s. He’s still sleeping on the couch, wondering why his girlfriend doesn’t leave him for someone more fitting. Yet, deep down, he knows the answer: she feels the same emptiness that he does, only it manifests in a different way. In the end, they’ll “leave it broke.”

Hello Exile is full of idealized versions of Menzingers songs, a little slower than usual but still containing all the sonic and lyrical hallmarks that we’ve come to expect. “I was getting fucked up with a high school friend, wondering where all the good times went,” would be a perfect encapsulation of the band’s career if not for “Farewell Youth”, the ultimate idealized Menzingers song. “I’m afraid I hardly got to know you,” Barnett laments to the youth he’s been endlessly singing about for over a decade, turning the disheartening goodbye into a rousing chant. Growing up means living a life full of contradictions, which is why he can advise us to not “let the overwhelming sorrow shred all hopes of tomorrow” in one song, then turn around and sing that “tomorrow is out of luck” in another. On any given day, it is up to us to decide which is false and which is true.



Recent reviews by this author
Taylor Swift FolklorePhoebe Bridgers Punisher
Protest the Hero PalimpsestRun the Jewels RTJ4
Pinegrove MarigoldLana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
user ratings (314)
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2019


2407 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

btw fukuyama is "woke" now



^ that is clickable

butt.
October 6th 2019


11038 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review. some of it went over my head but ayyy respek. really liking the record, it's growing as I expected. I Can't Stop Drinking is currently my favorite.

deathofasalesman
October 6th 2019


8638 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that's a goddamn motherfucking review right there

JayEnder
October 6th 2019


20466 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review chan! This album is a great follow up to After the Party. Quite the grower.

The title track might have become my new favorite. The mid tempo songs work so well in context of the album.



dmathias52
Staff Reviewer
October 6th 2019


1799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beautiful, beautiful review. After getting over the initial disappointment of this not quite rocking as much as I hoped, the commentary on the American Dream really hit me. Still not my favorite of theirs, but I think I can appreciate it in a different way

Sowing
Moderator
October 6th 2019


44147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Insightful review. This is less consistent than After the Party but has 3 songs that I prefer to any on that album - America, Anna, and Farewell Youth.

TheSupernatural
October 6th 2019


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, sums up how I feel now after a couple listens. Somehow I didn't know the meaning behind Chamberlain Waits but that makes sense. No one does the disillusionment of the American dream better than these guys.



The back half is still better than the first half though. Strawberry Mansions is the only Tom song that I really like, and several of the midtempo songs sound indistinct. I still hate the vocal production but it's better after multiple listens at least.



I can't wait to see them in Philly next month. At the very least, these songs are probably going to sound incredible live.

TheSupernatural
October 6th 2019


2213 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sowing, you mean to tell me you like America more than ATP's title track? But but but...

Slex
October 6th 2019


16804 Comments


Interesting and thoughtful take and super killer review

Pikazilla
October 6th 2019


30488 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hated OTIP and ATP, but this was passable I guess.



#deathtosadboipoppunk

SlothcoreSam
October 6th 2019


6262 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, and great album. But still can't get past the vocal production being stuck at the bottom of a well.

stasar
October 6th 2019


166 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

After ATP, clear downgrade. Some really good individual tracks, but I kind of think most of them are b-sides from previous efforts.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 7th 2019


6039 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, still not sure how I feel about the album

onionbubs
October 7th 2019


21571 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

really good review. been looping this constantly since its release and its grown tremendously across that time. strain your memory is one of their best ever

iswimfast
October 7th 2019


1527 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

black mass and lookers are both top tier



record is pretty cool i think it'll grow, ace review as always.

LotionLord
October 7th 2019


199 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Black Mass is one of the best Menzingers songs, and the intro to Lookers is the best part of the song.



Album's definitely solid, still not sure about a rating. Probably 3.5/4. High School Friend is the best track here.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 7th 2019


27993 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review, Chan!



Definitely digging this album’s darker tone. Much less optimistic than the last one but still catchy as hell

Deathconscious
October 7th 2019


27388 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Black Mass is one of the best Menzingers songs [2]



i love covering that song with my friend.

Lucman
October 7th 2019


5537 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

This has grown on me a good deal after a couple of spins. Still behind the run from OTIP and AtP but it's another solid album from the boys.

maxer
October 7th 2019


512 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm enjoying this more than ATP



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy