"All good things must fall apart."
So go the lyrics on the opening track, "Good Things," on the Menzinger's latest effort On the Impossible Past. That line on the very first track sums up the feeling of the entire album. Classic Menzingers.
After Chamberlain Waits, it seemed the group was in a transition phase, looking for a break from the punk of their first two releases. It was undoubtedly a great album, yet it seemed to be in some sort of middle distance between two genres. On the Impossible Past, a branch of pop-punk, punk rock,and alternative, seems to nail the sound the Menzingers were meant for. Tom May's voice is better than ever, the riffs are catchy and memorable, even more so than the ones from Chamberlain Waits, and the lyrics capture what the Menzingers are all about.
After a simple yet awesome opening song, the album rolls into "Burn After Writing," a duet between Tom and Greg Barnett. These two, both sounding incredible on their own, form a perfect melody and complement each other really well. "Obituaries" and "Gates," the album's two singles, offer a standard Menzingers song with standard Menzingers lyrics. Bad thing? No. Not one bit. These types of songs are the reason the band has the fans they do. Though, some may miss the "heavier" feel of the tracks from previous releases.
"Ava House" is one of weaker songs on the album. Tom's yells don't seem to fit in with the slow yet heavy feel of the song. It feels like it's building, but never quite gets to the peak, and never hits the drop. But right after that comes "Sun Hotel," another one of those "classic" Menzingers songs, with a feel straight from Hold On, Dodge. It's fast paced, riddled with heavy vocals and all together flows perfectly. "Sculptors and Vandals" opens with a familiar riff that I can't quite put my finger on, but is otherwise another fantastic display of Tom's vocals.
I needed to give this next song its own paragraph, because honestly I can't say enough about it. "Mexican Guitars" is not only the best song on the album, it's also the greatest song the Menzingers have ever written. The opening guitars roll into the song, reminiscent of "I Was Born," and even may evoke fond feelings of '90s punk for some. The lyrics, much like the guitars, are almost nostalgic. "You were an old friend / That covered up your innocence with bad tattoos / Of all the bands you loved in high school / The ones you said I had to listen to all the time." It's an ode to the past and, as the album name suggests, how distant and "impossible" it can feel. The memories we have, the feelings we had, and may still have.This song alone sums up the entire album perfectly.
The title track offers a sound that you'd be more accustomed to hearing on a Gaslight Anthem album, but the break after "Mexican Guitars" fits, and hits hard. Once again (broken record alert!) Tom's voice shines through. "Nice Things" is another song that could have fit perfectly on A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology, Tom's voice sounds like the one we were used to, as does the guitar work, but overall a song that could have been cut from the album. Not bad, just doesn't quite fit. "Casey" and "I Can't Seem to Tell" are both quality songs, though, with the former fitting close to "Mexican Guitars" lyrics-wisel. Finally, "Freedom Bridge" closes out the nearly 42 minute album (insane!) with a slow placed sum up of the entire album.
On the Impossible Past is about regrets, memories, lost friends, lost loves. It's about being torn between wanting to hang onto the past and wanting to move into the future. The Menzingers, while losing the "heavy" sound they once had, have morphed into a new being. On the Impossible Past isn't a story. It's a biography. Not of the members. It's a biography of the past. It succeeds as much on a musical level as it does on a lyrical level. Tom's voice is better than ever. The riffs are catchier than ever. The Menzingers are better than ever. This album has enough to suit both old fans and new fans alike.They certainly didn't "fuck this up."