What do you like to do for fun? You know, to get a natural high? I mean, sure, you could take illegal substances. Yes, it would be easier that way, but isn’t it more rewarding to get that feeling of pure elation from a life experience? Something like BASE-jumping, perhaps? How about a party or a concert? Personally, I’d do any one of those things (and I’ve actually done all three in the past). However, when I’m not exactly in an adventurous mood, I like to listen to music. Now, the topic is fun music, so let’s focus on that. To be quite honest, one of the few bands that springs immediately to mind when I think of music that’s for pure enjoyment only, I think of The Bouncing Souls. I mean, while the Souls are hardly deep or profound musicians, but to hell with that. I want my high.
The Bouncing Souls started off as a simple little band from New Jersey. During the humbling times of their less-than-glamorous beginnings, the Souls played a fusion of funk, metal, and punk, creating an extremely messy, yet unique sound. Eventually, they channeled their energies into a fast, raw brand of punk. Whilst doing this, the band managed to retain its own unique individuality. Many will consider The Bouncing Souls’ finest moment to either be their third album How I Spent My Summer Vacation
. However, a good portion of their fans consider the band’s greatest achievement to be their 1994 debut album, The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle
On their debut, the Souls combine intoxicatingly addictive lyrics with a wide variety of instrumentation; ranging from lightly textured, to surprisingly deep composition. The album’s 12 tracks clock in at a mere 31:18, making for an easily accessible, enjoyable listen. Of course, like any good punk/pop-punk album, The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle
features plenty of attitude. Mix it all together and you have a recipe for pure, unadulterated musical ecstasy.
The album begins with the bold, brash “I Like Your Mom." This forty-seven second introduction is simply a nonsensical song about a kid liking a friend’s mom and wanting to marry her. It’s a fast, well-paced little piece of filler that appropriately warms you up with a sense of the record’s overall mood. “The Guest" starts off slowly, with a nice melodic intro. It quickly picks up into a warp-speed example of the Souls’ trademark hooks and natural sound. “These Are The Quotes From Our Favorite 80's Movies" is self-explanatory: it starts off with the sounds of some crickets chirping, and the sound of movie clips. The lyrics are a selection of quotes and names from the Souls’ favorite movies. This song perfectly showcases The Bouncing Souls quirky creativity. “Joe Lies (When He Cries)" is the longest song on the album, thus, it contains the most depth. Still, you’ll hardly lose yourself in this one, but it’ll produce a good feeling from the intro, to the breakdown, to the final blast of lyrics.
“Some Kind Of Wonderful" begins on a deceptively subtle note. However, once the rumbling basslines come in, the song kicks into overdrive, and you’re left with another fine example of the Souls’ talent, complete with “ah ahs." “Lay 'Em Down And Smack 'Em, Yack 'Em" kicks off much like its predecessor. Unlike “Some Kind," however, this song stays tranquil throughout its duration. This laid-back feel is further accentuated by the whistling you can hear towards the end. This new, softer direction is shattered by the raw power of “Old School." You can tell right from the introduction that this song is a new kind of beast for The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle
. The instrumentation is slower, yet oozes pure form of something not unlike anger. However, the taught, easygoing lyrics serve to balance the song out. “Old School" is one of the standout tracks from the album, and comes highly recommended from this humble reviewer’s standpoint.
“Candy" is actually a cover of The Strangeloves
’ “I Want Candy." After the angst-ridden “Old School," it’s welcome change of pace. The fun lyrics about candy are about as enjoyable as shoving a spoonful of sugar down your mouth. I mean, what kind of human wouldn’t enjoy doing that once in awhile? “Neurotic" is an energetic little piece of work, whose real value is comedic relief. Towards the end of the song, the sounds of a guy beating the living crap out of…something can be heard. That just has to evoke smile out of you. “Inspection Station" is a curiosity. Definitely the most ambitious song on the album, it’s neither good nor bad. It’s just odd. “Deadbeats" is a return to the straightforward pop-punk we’ve come to expect from The Bouncing Souls. Full of furiously fast instrumentation and profanity, “Deadbeats" is another standout track from The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle
. The Souls’ debut concludes with a cover of The Waitresses
’ “I Know What Boys Like." Complete with zany instruments and “nyah nyahs" from The Bouncing Souls, it’s a fitting end to a wonderfully wild album.
Okay, I’ll be straight with you: this isn’t the Souls’ greatest album. However, it’s one kickass debut, and aside from some minor “what the hell" moments, it really has no downside. The Good, The Bad, and The Argyle
was a fittingly unglamorous way for this little band from the Garden State to get their start. I highly recommend that you get high off of it sometime. I do whenever I get the chance.