Published Sep 23, 2020It would be hard to convince a former emo kid that the Menzingers aren't one of the best bands currently out there. All of the band's past records recall grown-up emo sounds, allowing the listener to leave the angsty days of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy behind and transition into something a little more mature. Sure, the themes and topics stay the same (hometowns, New Jersey, Portland, exes, current crushes), but the language evolves.
The Menzingers are a band that has grown with their audience. From Exile is an acoustic version of their 2019 release Hello Exile, offering a more tender look at the songs fans have grown to love — a chilled out, calmed take on pop-punk, slowing down and settling into autumn weather. Ballad "Anna" is mournful for a love lost, and opening tune "America (You're Freaking Me Out)" is a powerful starter song, discussing George Floyd, police brutality, living inequalities and drastic differences in common existence. It's a strong message, and even more powerful without dramatic production; slowed-down and sparse, the message shines through even more.
One of two pre-released singles from the record, "High School Friend," is deep and personal. It seems to say: we've outgrown each other, we've moved on from here, but the place has stayed the same. A bit of a country-esque ballad-y homage to hometowns (in this case, Wayne County), they channel a highly relatable feeling when they talk about returning to their roots.
Though in essence a re-release, From Exile feels very new. Each acoustic rendition of an old song brings a new spin, a new way to absorb the messages and the secret story found within the lyrics. From Exile ends with "Farewell Youth" — a reminder that, just like the band, we've all grown up. It's fun to dive down and reminisce about nights spent suckling Jameson under bridges or on the playground, but we can't be kids forever; this helps us accept it. (Epitaph)