Most bands have a very linear trajectory when you follow the course of their career. They rarely deviate from what they find to be a tried and true formula for success and ride the wave until we, as consumers, stop buying their product. You would think that a band could write the same album only so many times... but that theory is proven wrong by countless acts who decide to play it safe, release after release after release. Sadly, this has become the natural course of things in modern music, underground or otherwise. I'm glad that there are bands like The Menzingers, who don't subscribe to this approach. As their fourth full-length, Rented World, is a testament of... they never rest on their laurels and always push the boundaries of punk rock with brutal lyrical honesty and an ingenuitive approach to song writing.

With that said... the sonic landscape set by this record isn't totally unprecedented, in regards to the history of this band. Their previous releases, specifically Chamberlain Waits (2010) & On The Impossible Past (2012), they really laid the groundwork for what they were to become as a band. The hinted at melancholy, hopelessness and self-disappointment conveyed on those releases is now fully formed... and now the subject of mortality is at center stage. In that regard, Rented World, regardless of its at times poppy veneer, is really quite dark. There are moments where I, as a listener, really connected with the emotions being sung about and was reminded of my own life experiences where I could have easily written these very same words. It is very rare to find honesty so candid and forthcoming and I applaud these gentlemen for giving us such unbridled access to the window into their soul.

The musicianship on Rented World is top-notch, as I expected it would be based on their previous works. There are no real frills or tricks employed here. It is just exceptionally played melodic indie punk rock and I don't think there are many other bands in this realm who do it better. One thing that is new to their sound is the incorporation of an almost "grungy"/90's tone. While this is a style that appears to be becoming en vogue, I feel it fits perfectly with the sound that the band has already created and perfected by this point in their career. Every song is thoughtfully orchestrated to serve the overall experience of the record. From song-to-song, you are taken on a ride from trough to crest of the emotional spectrum... culminating with the final track, "When You Died" (if you have ever experienced the loss of a loved one, have a box of tissues handy when this song comes on).

The bottom line is that The Menzingers are the best at what they do. They entertain you with catchy songwriting, while taking you on an emotional ride where you see the world through their eyes. Very few bands are capable of this and I am glad that I live in a world where their music exists.

Buy this record ASAP... it comes out on April 22nd via Epitaph Records!