American Punk-rockers The Menzingers bring the punk with their latest release Hello Exile, which welcomes us to the various human connections they’ve felt, and makes us feel them, too.
‘America (You’re Freaking and Out)’, either introduces strangers to The Menzingers’ sound or reintroduces old friends. With a welcoming beat on the drums and catchy lyrics, which actually have meaning, it’s no surprise that this was the first single. It certainly hyped up the album, and that hype is shown to be worthy with latest single, ‘Anna.’ This is the song we are all nostalgic for, looking at a failed relationship through rose-coloured glasses made of alcohol. The chorus is almost slurred.
Continuing the theme of connections, not only in romance, but in platonic friendship, ‘High School Friend’ has an engaging chorus that describes obviously how friendships change over time. The bridge of ‘Last To Know’ is almost an echo, hinting subtly at the meaning of the song, and being the last to hear it. Though you certainly won’t be the last to hear Tom May’s brilliant guitar work throughout. Two guitars cohesively blend together, like close friends, contradicting the title of the song ‘Strangers Forever.’
‘Hello Exile’ is the titular song for a reason, and that reason is it ties everything together, being a perfect transition to the second half of the album. The Menzingers narrow down the focus in ‘America’ to ‘Portland,’ a song that starts instantly with the crash of drums.
Memory is a huge motif throughout the album, and ‘Strain Your Memory’ addresses that with an anthem-like chorus, showcasing the true gravel in Greg Barnett’s voice. He seems to be created especially for punk, or at least delivering punk-like messages of anarchy and rebellion. Yet, he also shows versatility as the tempo is slowed in ‘I Can’t Stop Drinking.’ Barnett draws out the notes, offering a solution if the nostalgia of the album is too much. He invites us to keep him company and we do. We stay with him for ‘Strawberry Mansion,’ another quick tempo addition, possibly the most punk-sounding.
From drinking to ‘London Drugs,’ it is all covered. May’s guitar work overshadows the vocals in this number. It’s more hypnotising, just like drugs. The album closes on ‘Farewell Youth,’ a song that is self-explanatory. We bid farewell to the album, as Barnett says farewell to his childhood. It is both raw and honest, yet streamlined, thanks to Will Yip’s production. This is arguably the deepest The Menzingers have gone with their material, and it definitely paid off.