Rented World, the fourth full-length album from The Menzingers, is, for lack of a better word, big. That word can be construed in a few different ways. Yes, the track lengths themselves average in at a little bit longer (one song breaks the five-minute mark, a first for the Philly-by-way-of-Scranton punks) and they enlisted the audio muscle of producer Jon Low for this one, but there’s more to it than that. After three records, including 2012’s breakthrough On the Impossible Past, there’s a weight of confidence and precision laced throughout Rented World. And confidence allows songwriters to try some new things.
That idea presents itself pretty immediately on Rented World, especially when contrasted against On the Impossible Past’s Americana-leaning loose narrative of lyrical and melodic themes: Good things, nice things, American muscle cars, kids getting high, etc. Singer/guitarists Greg Barnett and Tom May keep the songs on Rented World decidedly contained. Barnett has mentioned in interviews recently that this was the first Menzingers album to not be solely written on an acoustic guitar; rather, songs were pieced and structured carefully instead of over a couple of chords. As a result, many tracks, with their riff-specific construction, feel like nods to ‘90s alt-rock – a fun direction to see The Menzingers explore.
But as with each Menzingers record, May and Barnett split songwriting duties nearly 50/50, and on Rented World, they continue to characterize their own differing methods. Continue reading →