The first song on The Menzingers’ fourth LP Rented World boasts a title so declarative and on-the-nose that it threatens to render the actual song redundant. Fortunately, “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore” lives up to its billing — a raucous, raw-throated anthem that testifies to the redemptive powers of rock for the kind of people who see themselves in the Scranton band’s music. Who are those people? Well, note that “I Don’t Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore” is an apology, not a promise. When Greg Barnett yells “BABY, BABY I’LL BE GOOD TO YOU,” he sounds like has no choice but to believe in himself if he expects anything to change.
The song does such a good job articulating the appeal of the Menzingers in three minutes that Rented World ends up being, well, kinda redundant. Easing off the high-stakes emoting after their wildly acclaimed 2012 album On the Impossible Past, Rented World offers plenty of hooks but little flair, and does little to deviate from moderate tempos, crunchy guitars and pleasantly gritted vocals until its acoustic closer “When You Died.” But to their credit, with Gaslight Anthem having gone full Boss fan-fic years ago, Rented World reestablishes the Menzingers at the forefront of denim-rock: Not quite blue collar and definitely not white collar.