The Menzingers - On The Possible Past [Cassette] (Cover Artwork)

The Menzingers

On The Possible Past [Cassette] (2012)

Epitaph Records

For those who pre-ordered On the Impossible Past, the Menzingers' debut full-length for Epitaph Records, the acoustic demos that eventually matured into that record were included as a bonus for fans. The idea for the inclusion of the demos apparently came from co-lead singer Greg Barnett's brother who was kind enough to inform him that he had fucked up for not including acoustic demos with their pre-orders à la the Mountain Goats.

Probably because of the limited quantities in circulation (Google and Mediafire are your friends however) and the extremely positive critical and fan reaction to On the Impossible Past, this gem may fall into the abyss of just being a collectors piece. Although in reality it is something so much more.

Prima facie the demos come off as a novelty piece of roughly recorded acoustic versions of songs that have yet to be fully actualized. Once the poor quality of the recordings is bypassed, however, the listener is invited into the musicianship of the Menzingers at their most intimate. Like the full-length, On the Possible Past starts with "Good Things;" much of the punch is lost sans the accompaniment of a full band, but a new appreciation is gained for the minimalist lyrics and how well they introduce the record. "Burn After Writing" remains my least favorite track on both albums and is probably the only track that offers nothing new or poignant as an acoustic demo.

The two stand out tracks of the tape are the original renditions of "Sun Hotel" and "I Can't Seem to Tell." "Sun Hotel" is arguably better as a demo, and the lyrical quality blows the final version of the song out of the water. When you are cutting out lines like "I remember you well at the sun hotel where we were famous / and our hearts were fucking legends," you clearly have to be confident in your abilities as a lyricist (as Barnett should be). "I Can't Seem to Tell" is more or less a straight up acoustic edition of the final product, but with an alternate line leading into the chorus that must have been an impossibly (see what I did there?) tough decision to alter for the final album. Overall these demos are an enjoyable experience even for the most passing of Menzingers fan; they should not be missed if you enjoyed the full-length in any capacity.