New Jersey. The Garden State. My place of residence for most of my life. Sure, it has its flaws, but on the whole, it’s a pretty nice place to live. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to live in a land of strip clubs and mini-malls? Well, let’s put it this way: why wouldn’t you want to live in a state that’s played host to so many kickass musical acts? And no, I’m not talking about the recent “emo" explosion of bands from here (My Chemical Romance
, etc.) I’m think more along the lines of Frank Sinatra
. Well, actually I was really thinking along the lines of Bon Jovi
, Bruce Springsteen
, The Misfits
, and The Bouncing Souls. Oh yeah, speaking of those bouncing entities, let’s get some focus on the point of this review: their 1997 self-titled release.
You see, The Bouncing Souls were hardly a household name in their earliest days. Their first album The Good, the Bad, and the Argyle
was released in 1994 on Chunksaah records. Despite less than stellar sales, the Souls followed up with Maniacal Laughter
in ‘96. This was their big break, as it led to a high profile tour with punk trio Youth Brigade
(the Los Angeles incarnation of the band, not to be confused with the Hardcore band from Washington, D.C.). It was during this tour that the Souls caught the attention of Epitaph Records, who immediately signed them. A little less than a year later, and The Bouncing Souls
was unleashed upon the world.
This album is everything pop-punk should be: fast, catchy, and full to the brim with attitude. If you can overlook the relatively minor low production points, you’ll find that The Bouncing Souls
is well worth your time to listen to. Lyrics about partying and having fun cast a great, uplifting mood on the album. The Bouncing Souls want you to “bounce" along to their music (a point that they’ve made blatantly obvious over the years). Every song is extremely concise (most clock in at just over one minute, with none break the three minute mark), making The Bouncing Souls
a very tight moving, albeit fast album. This really isn’t a drawback, as all the songs are so fun to listen to, that you’ll probably want to move on after only a short while anyway. Personally, I think more pop-punk should follow by this example. Short, catchy, memorable songs are (in my opinion) superior to long (-ish), catchy, memorable songs (at least inside this genre; anywhere else the opposite is most likely true).
While many may complain that the songs are too fast and too similar to leave an impression, I hardly think that there’s anything wrong with that. This is an energetic party album: it’s designed to be fun. And with such songs as “Party at 174," “East Coast! Fu
ck You!," “Holiday at Cocktail Lounge," and “Whatever I Want (Whatever That Is)," are the stand-out tracks on The Bouncing Souls
. Songs like “Serenity" and “Kate Is Great" showcase early signs of how The Bouncing Souls would mature into more intelligent, thoughtful songwriters (this would take a little while). All the other songs are purely for fun, which is great, because they actually are
The lyrics featured on The Bouncing Souls
are nonsensical (big surprise). You won’t really find any deep hearted, emotion-laden poetic masterpieces here. Instead, you’ll just hear a lot about booze, and parties, with a lot of “ha’s," “rah’s," “whoa’s," “oh’s," and “oi’s." The music isn’t exactly a technical wonder, either. The guitar riffs are basic power chords and open chords, with simple (yet effective) breakdowns. The basslines are simple, yet catchy. The drumming is powerful and hard, yet not unlike other things you’ve heard before. So what keeps The Bouncing Souls
from falling into a dull category of mediocrity alongside other mid-90s pop-punk albums? Attitude. It’s as simple as that. The Bouncing Souls
oozes with attitude, from the song titles to the album art.
All in all, The Bouncing Souls’ self-titled release is a solid effort. However, it’s not without its shortcomings. Some songs are too short, and don’t develop quite as quickly (or as efficiently) as they should. Also, many of the songs sound the same. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just exactly make one want to listen to this album over and over again (as pop-punk albums are designed to be). In addition to this, as I mentioned before, the production values aren’t the best. Vocals can be a little muddy at times, as can the instruments. These are all minor quibbles, though, and are easily overlooked. The Bouncing Souls
is a great album. While it’s not the best thing you’ve ever heard, it’s not the worst, either. Hell, it may wind up being the most whimsical thing you’ve heard. Give it a listen.