From Exile is an apt name for the album we didn’t know we needed in 2020, The Menzingers rework of their last album Hello Exile.

This album was recorded in lockdown while the members of the band were in quarantine. Each part was recorded separately in their own location and then pieced together like a puzzle. It helps significantly that this reimagining is one of The Menzingers best albums to date. You would not be mistaken for thinking this album didn’t need reimagining, and yet here we are, well everybody needs something to do in lockdown, don’t they!

The songs are not rerecorded in a traditional “let’s make this song acoustic manner” stripped down in this case, which means reworking the tracks until they sound almost nothing like the original. Giving each a unique slant that you would expect from these seasoned pros, they’ve really put a lot of imagination into each one. Sometimes it sounds like another band playing the songs entirely.

Listening to the album, you hear from track one that you are in for something different as you are presented with an upbeat song in the way of ‘America’. It also makes you forget that it was once a starkly different song. Although its protest against Trump’s America is still there but in a somewhat cheerfuller manner. Songs like this hold great importance as Trump refuses to accept the implications of COVID-19 for his country while its inhabitants lock themselves inside to take their own precautions.

Then we have songs that are worked on the other way around. For example, ‘High School Friend’, which is usually an upbeat song, has been made a more downbeat tune that’s a little sad and a lot slower. This gives a more prominent presence to the track, drawing you into the lyrical brilliance and emphasizing those words with meaning. Other standout songs include ‘Anna’ and ‘Last to know’.

This album shows the versatility of The Mengzingers and how they can be greater than just the screaming punks they are often written up as. Sure they’ve played up to it over the years, but this year, 2020, they’ve given us a different light to view them in. This is definitely an album you can enjoy as a fan or a new listener. If you are a Mengzingers fan, then be sure to stream the record this Friday, 25th September, or even better, pick up a physical copy when it’s released in November.

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