The Menzingers’ 2012 album On The Impossible Past self-consciously flitted from nostalgic whimsy to inordinate existential uncertainty, configuring an abridged comment on the plasticity of time, while adjacently being one of the best chant-along albums of the decade. It was epic and intimate, pirouetting with a shrewd adjective from hazy, seductive memories of waitresses and shared cigarettes to abrupt sensations of loneliness. Its 2014 sequel Rented World was… fine; serviceable, but largely absent of the crackling musicality and self-effacing-but-also-deadly-serious bluster they mastered on OTIP. It didn’t sound like The Menzingers, in other words - as if they’d indeed rented themselves out.

After The Party is a pure-blood Menzingers record, and that means asking deep and important questions in-between necking reduced-to-clear lagers, or protracted soliloquies about sorrow interrupted by a sharply timed dick joke. With ska-like truncations, ‘20s (Tellin Lies)’ throttles your attention with gleeful accounts of disillusionment; “Like a car alarm that won’t stop howling, a decade lost in the motions.” If its title didn’t make it brusquely clear, its opening salvo certainly does; ageing’s shit, but becoming a wiser, better person isn’t.

Their lyricism is hardly subtle, but then that’s never been their intention. They’re direct and flowery, but impassioned and charismatic enough to make it work. Analogously to the way Greg Barnett and Tom May eulogised their adolescence on OTIP, they eulogise their twenties here. What’s beguiling is the repurposing of their distinctively pop-centric sensibilities to highlight just how imbued in remorse they sound. On ‘House On Fire’, the traditionally euphoric refrain is dictated by the couplet “Waiting for your life to start then you die/ Was your heart beating in the first place?”; while ‘Bars’ condemns their own punk-bro hedonism with “Too hungover to sleep/ Too tired to be alive.” The terrific ‘Bad Catholics’ remembers an old flame now married with kids, happy, and returned to the eponymous Catholicism repentant of her anarchic youth with our narrator. What could have been, etc.

They’ve grown worn with compunction, but also reflect with a smile on their punk-bro hedonism. ‘Bad Catholics’ opens with fondness; “A bottle of clear eyes, an appetite/ We were pillaging the Turkey Hill on Main Ave in West Side.” The paradox works, because nostalgia is inexorably a bipartisan collaboration between regret and affection. The final didacticism ‘Livin Ain’t Easy’ is an incisive heart-to-heart, abruptly opening with the most disarming confession the band have professed; “The life I’ve painted I have sold for a quick twenty,” a declaration of the bitterest of ironies, where bare honesty is selling out as you’re still earning. This vicious paradox, just like the nostalgia paradox, evokes the performance of everyday living. Life’s resplendent with paradox, with good stuff and bad stuff, and it’s damn hard balancing the two.

It’s not only lyrically where they roar rejuvenated. Their riffs are tetchier, dancier, and emphatically earwormy; there are more hooks than an angling store. This is partially down to the band’s natural proclivity for catchy pop songs reorienting itself, but also down to their evanescent flings with new soundscapes; discreet but meaningful affairs. ‘20’s (Tellin Lies)’ surges with ska impulses: ‘Thick As Thieves’ bursts with Springsteen All-American bubblegum: ‘Livin Ain’t Easy’ has slacker rock lethargy by the kilo-load. ‘Lookers’ is the kind of mythology-spinning banger which Brian Fallon insouciantly mass-produced like they were iPhones. It’s probably the most conventionally pop punk song on the record, and poses criminally mannered lines like “You little Kerouac, always running like Dean and Sal” – approximating a teenager trying to impress his edgy, attractive English teacher – but you just go with it, because it’s liberating and fervent.

After The Party is resurgent by rediscovering everything that’s exciting about The Menzingers’ esotericism, and it’s fresh through galvanising this logical step in their thematic journey with a goodie-bag of gratifying surprises.