"Anthemic" is a word that gets thrown around a lot when describing melodic punk bands, so much to the point where it is tough to discern whether the word is being used sincerely or not. Rest assured, it is definitely a word that accurately describes the new Menzingers album, On the Impossible Past. Filled with tons of explosive choruses that are easy to sing along with, the band's Epitaph Records debut sticks out like a beacon of hope in a time when "dubstepcore" bands have become a thing.
On the Impossible Past takes what made Chamberlain Waits so successful and improves on that sound, making it a logical follow up album to what was already a solid effort. While the sonic leap isn't drastic, the Menzingers have found a way to work their formula without re-recording the same album over again like so many punk bands will do. Like their peers in the Gaslight Anthem, Cheap Girls, and the Sidekicks, the Menzingers have stumbled into a realm of modern day punk rock for the jaded working class, with music that is just as loud as it is reserved, and lyrics that reflect on the hardships of modern life living and romanticizing a simpler time.
As with many songs on Chamberlain Waits, the band's lyrics on this album can be oddly specific at times, citing events pertaining only to the band members themselves. This is far from a bad thing, and it's definitely one of the finer points of the band's developing style; eschewing a standard rhyme scheme in favor of describing how things really went down. Sure to be new fan-favorites Mexican Guitars and Casey stand out as some of the more prominent examples of this, although the band isn't one to shy away from a big, meaty chorus like those found on lead singles The Obituaries and Gates.
When the Menzingers recorded their cover of the Clash's Straight to Hell on their debut album, A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology, it was almost like a sign of things to come. Just as the Clash pushed their sound forward by adopting new sounds and genres of all kinds, the Menzingers have not been afraid to try new things with their music-even if it means allowing their punk roots to take a backseat while trying different sounds.
For many, the Clash was dubbed "the only band that matters." With any luck, the Menzingers will one day be recognized as "the only other band that matters."