Review Summary: Forgive and forget.
Whenever someone plays a song by Bowling for Soup, I get chills. Not the kind of chills you’d want to get. More like the chills you get when someone pours ice water down the back of your shirt. Their inescapable presence in the mid-2000s came to a head with 2004’s A Hangover You Don't Deserve, an album so one-note that its catalog of 18 songs couldn’t even get the band a second hit. I assume everyone snapped out of their delirium and realized that music had more to offer than this. So thankfully, the band’s reign over the Top 40 ended mercifully quick around 2006. And while a part of me wants to leave this album to the tar pits like everyone else has, I wish to return to this album one last time before it slips back into the deep recesses of my lizard brain.
The album starts off with the ever-annoying Almost and the first thing you’ll notice when you hit play on A Hangover You Don't Deserve is that the lyrics are as lowest common denominator as pop could get:
”I almost got drunk at school at 14, where I almost made out with the homecoming queen, who almost went on to be Miss Texas, but lost to a slut with much bigger breastes.”
See, using the word “almost” in every line may have seemed like a good idea on paper, but in practice it's almost unbearable. And if that “breastes” line didn’t make your skin crawl, I applaud you. The instrumentation doesn’t help much at all, what with that simplistic guitar work that’s all too familiar in the world of pop punk. I’m not saying that the music is necessarily bad here. It has a few moments of catchy hooks or an okay line. It’s just that so much of it is so bare-bones and it all blends together after a certain point.
Lets be honest with ourselves, people only bought this album for one thing and one thing only: the single. The only way a rock album so devoid of talent could’ve went Gold back in 2004 was if there was an earwormy single attached. The song 1985 fits that description quite well, and I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t catchy as all hell. But even this song ticks me off. You see, 1985 was actually first recorded by forgotten pop punk band SR-71, meaning Bowling for Soup’s only decent song wasn’t even theirs, minus a few lyric changes. The original was no masterpiece by any means, but it just goes to show you that even one of the few highlights on this relatively dim album can still disappoint me in some manner. That, my friends, is the power of this album; nay, this band as a whole.
The bulk of the album is about unfruitful love, as many songs here have our leading man dealing with breakups with borderline psychopaths who spend his money, give him the finger, throw fits, and make him get on his knees and beg them for their forgiveness. Now, I can understand why lead singer Jaret Reddick would be drawn to writing about this topic. Perhaps he wanted to tap into the “dudes-who-blame-women-for-their-problems” market, a demographic that musicians from every era have dove into from time to time. And that’s all well and good, but Bowling for Soup is not charismatic enough to pull that shtick off.
While I do sympathize with people caught in a very unhealthy relationship, writing an entire album surrounding it is not a good idea. But the singer (or whoever’s perspective these songs are meant to be in) also contradicts himself a lot on this album, acting as if he doesn’t need love on some of the tracks while others have him wailing like a lover scorned. It’s very jarring having one song dedicated to dumping someone when the next is about you pining for your lover to come back to you.
All in all, Bowling for Soup’s A Hangover You Don't Deserve is exactly what you’d expect: very generic 2000s pop punk, and its aged like milk. While it’s not necessarily terrible my any means, it has plenty annoying lines, unnecessary swearing, and weak musical performances to send it below mediocrity in my eyes. But that’s still not enough for me to hate it. My best advice to you when you give this album a spin is not to think about it. Don’t tear your hair out over how dumb this album is, because it’s not worth it. It's background noise for a depressing party or a particularly upbeat funeral. Unless there’s a wave of 2000s nostalgia sometime in the near future, I don't see Bowling for Soup coming back. Just forgive them of their trespasses and move on. You’ll feel a lot better afterwards.