The end of the year is a strange listening experience. I spend a lot of time going back through the year trying to figure out my top 10, while largely avoiding radio and its recycled Christmas music. In recent days during this endeavor, I picked up “Rented World” again, a record that captivated me in the spring upon release. It was everywhere. I had it queued up on Spotify for the mornings, blasting in the car to and from work, sitting in the record player. Seeing The Menzingers on their tour for this album was easily one of this year’s best shows. Then somewhere along the way, as sometimes happens with the albums you inhale the deepest, I kind of burnt myself out on it. Summer turned into finding new artists, trying out the trends of the year, or revisiting past favorites. I don’t know if I played this album once. So I was relieved this weekend when, on a long drive home, I put in “Rented World,” and it sounded as good as it did the first time. Better, maybe – the sharpest parts stood out, the memorable lines rang loud and true. The heavy rhythm section thundered deeper than I recalled, and the strained, serrated vocals encapsulated the hope and anger and frustration at the self and the situation and the system as clearly as any pop-punk offshoot band could or should hope to aspire to. I’ve yet to figure out where my album rankings stand for 2014 but I don’t think I can skip this one from a band I’ve only grown more attached to over time. Not when it’s got so much power behind it, not when it was everything I’d anticipated it to be, and more.

I used to lie to myself all the time
I was always over-reacting, screaming “I’m gonna die.”

But now I’m five thousand miles from her head on my shoulder
From a night I spent sober screaming “I’m gonna die.”

But all I ever wanted was to make things right
All I ever wanted was to make things right

Transient love, I was a ghost on your birthday
I was a runaway somewhere in a fabled mistake
Transient love, you should’ve seen the view from the pension
It made me think of things we’d never mention
The things we’re too afraid to say

Like what if I spend the next few years
Just somewhere in some atmosphere
While you’re at home with bills to pay
I hope it doesn’t end this way

All I ever wanted was to make things right
All I ever wanted was to make things right
Over and over in my head, I’ve tried
But all I ever wanted was to make things right.

~Transient Love
The Menzginers, Rented World