The Menzingers
From Exile


3.5
great

Review

by Sunnyvale USER (12 Reviews)
September 28th, 2020 | 36 replies


Release Date: 09/25/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A reimagined album which somehow ends up leaving this listener with the same feeling as the original

Thinking about the Menzingers’ 2019 album Hello Exile has always left me with a slightly disgruntled feeling. The band has always been a favorite of mine, and their discography is easily one of the most rock-solid in the modern punk scene. But nonetheless, Hello Exile has always seemed “off” to me, a collection of songs which somehow add up to less together than they do when taken individually. Given this feeling, it’s unsurprising I was excited when I heard that the band was to release From Exile, a reworked album featuring acoustic versions of the original album’s twelve songs. Maybe, just maybe, this new version would unlock the full potential of an initial release which had quite disappointed me…

Unfortunately, that hope wasn’t to be. This isn’t to say that From Exile is a bad album, in fact it’s quite enjoyable and even brilliant at times. But the root causes of my original alienation remain. While the country and folk leanings the band explores on this release generally work well, ultimately From Exile eventually runs right into the same issues I felt regarding the initial version. Basically, the album is simply too uneven to live up to the consistent brilliance which past releases have prompted us to expect from the band.

By my reckoning, there are three sure-fire Menzingers classics on Hello Exile, by which I count Anna, High School Friend, and Farewell Youth. I don’t think the alternate arrangement here does Farewell Youth any favors, but the other two are clear-cut highlights and sound fantastic in their Americana-fueled incarnations.

Beyond that, Hello Exile had a broad middle tier. These are songs which have strong lyrics and nice melodies, but for whatever reason don’t meld into stunning tunes quite like I usually expect from the Menzingers. A couple of the songs in this category, notably “Last To Know” and “Strangers Forever” really hit the spot on this release, but on the other end “Strain Your Memory” is really plodding and dull in its presentation here.

Third and finally, there are the handful of tracks which I’ve never felt approach the usual quality level of Menzingers album tracks. Tunes like “Portland” and “I Can’t Stop Drinking” (which seems to be popular, but I find to be a failed experiment), sadly aren’t able to convert me even in their new versions here.

All the above is to say that while From Exile is a fun and worthwhile reinterpretation of the Menzingers’ previous release, it unfortunately isn’t a revelation either. I could entertain arguments that From Exile is marginally superior or marginally inferior to its parent album, but certainly neither release has a drastic edge on the other. From Exile is an enjoyable listen recommended to the Menzingers’ fans. There’s a few tracks here (notably Strangers Forever) where the new version could become definitive. On the other hand though, some of the tracks really don’t meet the quality of the original (looking at you, Farewell Youth).



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user ratings (44)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
September 28th 2020


1898 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wanted to give this a writeup. I spent a lot of ink writing about Hello Exile while reviewing From Exile, but perhaps that's inevitable given the connection between the two releases

SlothcoreSam
September 28th 2020


2885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The songs themselves are great, but it's hard to listen to the album from front to back, unless it's background music.

I would have preferred a rearranged album, or even EP, cut out half the tracks, don't know why they needed to keep the same song order as Hello Exile.

Digging: Hospital Bracelet - South Loop Summer

Sunnyvale
September 28th 2020


1898 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I do sort of agree that the whole album wasn't necessary, an EP of the best tracks here would've been really cool. I do think the concept was nice, but the end product is uneven

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
September 29th 2020


2181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

glad you reviewed this sunny, as a full package i might dig this more than hello exile. i'd say you use first person perspective a bit too frequently, but it's an enjoyable read nonetheless!

one lil edit: 'The band has always been favorites of mine...' - 'have always been favorites' or 'has always been a favorite'

Digging: Emma Ruth Rundle and Thou - The Helm Of Sorrow

deathschool
September 29th 2020


27110 Comments


Out of Exile >

Digging: Madvillain - Madvillainy

Pangea
September 29th 2020


5454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is alright, but while some songs work well in their new version, there are a few that don't work at all. especially this version of america feels a bit awkward to me. it kinda of loses it's impact here

Digging: Akhlys - Melinoe

Pangea
September 29th 2020


5454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

the new anna is really good but that always one of my faves here

DarthM0rg
September 29th 2020


3 Comments


Opening paragraph articulates perfectly how I feel about Hello Exile.

The disappointment of an 'ok' album from a band that can do better, always sways me to dislike the album. It's overly dramatic to say but kinda feels like a betrayal. Maybe I put too much weight into needing the album to be good, as if it's a life jacket I need to stay afloat.

Only now coming round to enjoying 'Sister Cities' by The Wonder Years. Man I hated on that album for so long.

Sunnyvale
September 29th 2020


1898 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the input guys!



@Jesper, made that edit, thanks for the catch

zaruyache
September 29th 2020


23379 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good jam.

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
September 29th 2020


1499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review and pretty much agreed. "Strangers Forever" is my favorite cut from here. Was hoping for more things like "America Pt. 2" where songs were even more reimagined, surprised and somewhat confused it wasn't included on here

Sunnyvale
September 29th 2020


1898 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks @dmathias52.



Yeah, most of the songs here, while stylistically different, don't stray too far from the originals

butt.
September 29th 2020


8190 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

High school friends is one of my least favorites on the original but one of my favs here. So that was a nice surprise. Last to Know is still my least fav on both. Most songs are consistent with the originals and not super reimagined.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
September 29th 2020


2181 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

strain your memory (my fav on hello exile) got done dirty here but thankfully it's the only v noticeable downgrade

Pangea
September 29th 2020


5454 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah this strain your memory kinda sucks, which is a shame since the original is great. also agreed that both versions of last to know are weak









BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
September 30th 2020


3577 Comments


Very nicely written. I think I agree for the most part; I do like the sound here a lot, though.

Digging: Moor Mother and Billy Woods - Brass

Sunnyvale
September 30th 2020


1898 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks! And agreed, the band generally does this type of sound well

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
September 30th 2020


1499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I do have to say, this is typical Menzingers in that even though I merely enjoy it, it's so listenable. I've had it on as background music on repeat for a couple days now (I think Sloth said the same thing)

Project
September 30th 2020


4566 Comments


agreed the new Strain Your Memory is not good, which is a shame since the original was one of the highlights of the original album

I kinda like the folksy feel of this but I'd rather it was original songs, since the fact that these are basically Menzingers covers means the flaws of the Hello Exile songs are largely intact (i.e., lyrics are pretty weak by Menzingers standards and the melodies just feel flat)

Colton
September 30th 2020


7084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Expected this to feel like a more lifeless version of the original but I'm actually liking it. Vocals are so good.

Digging: Pinegrove - Amperland, NY



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