The Menzingers - Hello Exile
Review by Shannon Shumaker
With each new album from The Menzingers, it always feels like the band has reached their peak, like they can’t get any better than this. At this point, though, I shouldn’t be surprised when they simply outdo themselves every single time. With their latest album, Hello Exile, the band has taken what made their previous release, After The Party great and simply ran with it. Filled to the brim with emotional lyrics about existential dread, the fear of growing up and holding on to one’s youth and the people they love, Hello Exile is sure to hit home with the band’s fans who are going through similar things.
Hello Exile loses a little bit of the punk edge that could be heard on Rented World and On The Impossible Past and replaces it with a more midwestern rock influenced sound, but that definitely isn’t a bad thing. The album doesn’t lose the band’s energy and sing-along worthy choruses that made fans fall in love with them to begin with. The first two songs on the album, “America (You’re Freaking Me Out)” and “Anna” are sure to be fan favorites at live shows, but even the deep cuts like “High School Friend” and “London Drugs” will have you singing along within the first few listens. These songs, much like The Menzingers’ previous work, are memorable and catchy as hell.
Sonically, Hello Exile is a standout because of the new direction that the band takes, but easily the strongest thing about the album is its lyrical content. “High School Friend,” for instance, tells a story about returning to your hometown after growing up, running into people you used to hang out with, reminiscing on good times together and trying to find a way to connect with them after years apart. Then there’s “Strangers Forever” which is a surprisingly upbeat breakup song of sorts, taking a line from Leo Tolstoy's classic novel, “Anna Karenina” in the sing-along worthy chorus.
Songs that hit a little harder emotionally are peppered throughout the album as well, like the title track, “Hello Exile,” the blunt, “I Can’t Stop Drinking” and the incredibly powerful closer, “Farewell Youth.” Easily one of the strongest songs on the album, “Farewell Youth” feels like the cumulation of the themes addressed on Hello Exile and reminisces about growing up too fast as a punk kid in a small midwest town and eventually, growing apart from the people that meant the most to you. It’s beautifully heartbreaking and sure to touch people who have been in the same boat.
If After The Party felt like growing up, then Hello Exile is finally accepting it, and that’s definitely not a bad thing. Musically, the album is the band’s most mature and diverse release yet, and lyrically, it’s filled with some of their most personal and emotional songs they’ve ever written. Combine the two, and Hello Exile is absolutely in the running to become The Menzingers’ best album yet. Although, I’m sure they’ll just go to top it again with the next one.
LISTEN TO: “Farewell Youth” “High School Friend” or “Anna”
STAY CONNECTED WITH THE MENZINGERS: https://www.facebook.com/themenzingers/