I guess I need to come out and say that I love The Bouncing Souls and have so for years. I’ve seen them live countless times, and have funny stories involving Bryan Kienlen trying to give me beer and signing a shirt that I still have (and wear, even though it’s tattered and holey. For those of you who know the story of “The Shed Shirt”, there you go). I do have to admit that I came into this album skeptically. Twenty years and eight albums later, what could they POSSIBLY do on this album?
Oh yeah, they could kick the shit out of your eardrums with it. That’s what could happen.
After a few listens, I started to realize that this album isn’t so much about making new music as celebrating 20 years in the music industry. It has a little bit of everything that a punk album should have…love, lies, politics, and just the tiniest bit of anarchy. It’s a rich, full sound without seeming overproduced. It’s like a best of…except with all new songs. Instead of rolling though their discography for songs, they merely searched for content. For all those similar themes.
It has pop-inspired, infectiously catchy songs that sound straight from the cutting room floor of Hopeless Romantic and How I Spent My Summer Vacation to the hardcore early punk sound of Maniacal Laughter. At this point, I really don’t think the Souls give a shit about what you want…they’ve been around long enough (I was a toddler when they formed. I know, I’m ashamed) that they’re just going to do what they want to do anyway, so why not make it good?
I complain all the time about how bands put all of their good songs at the beginning of the album and the end of the album just keeps droning on and on. Ghosts on the Boardwalk is the complete opposite of that. Damn, after 20 years, I sure hope that The Souls would be able to aptly organize a record. Anyway, this album only gets better as it goes on. It does start off promisingly enough with “Gasoline”, it does go into a few forgettable if not bland tracks like “Airport Security” and the sweet, yet decidedly boring “I Think That the World”.
Soon, though, it picks up with the rough and heavy “Badass” that reminds me of all those summer festivals. Hot and drunk, which is never a good combination. Getting my ass kicked in pits and coming home in a layer of people’s bodily fluids that I honestly don’t even want to think about. Same with “We All Sing Along”. It’s the same feel-good, breezy summer, let’s go get drunk kind of track that “Hopeless Romantic” was. A track that everyone can get along to.
The real gem of this album is “Dub Says True”. Heavy bass, Greg Attonito’s patented vocals, and just catchy enough to make you not be able to get it out of your head. Like “T. Frankenstein” over on Frankenstein Sound System…I remember when The Bouncing Souls weren’t “punk enough”, whatever that means, and it’s super awesome to see them still around, still making music, and still rocking the fuck out. I’m telling you, you may need to listen to it a few times through, but it’ll be worth it. B
The Bouncing Souls Site