Sound: A twenty year career is impressive. A twenty year career as a punk band is very impressive. A 20 year career as a punk band having suffered only one lineup change is simply astounding, but thatâ€™s The Bouncing Souls. Having spent a career building up an incredibly tight-knit network of fans, friends and family through their innate likeability and timeless anthems, the Souls are celebrating, once again, through music. In 2009 they put out a new tune every month, and â€˜Ghosts On The Boardwalkâ€™ is a rearrangement of all twelve songs into a more traditional album package.
For many, the seminal â€˜How I Spent My Summer Vacationâ€™ cemented the Bouncing Souls as a band that act as a friend thatâ€™s always there to keep your spirits up, and having a fresh instalment of New Jersey punk every month only enhanced that feeling â€“ thing is, itâ€™s not all power chords and jangly Bryan Kienlen basslines. In the past, their softer songs have been at best digressional but â€˜Ghosts On The Boardwalkâ€™ does the whole â€˜under 200bpmâ€™ thing far more effectively. Led by Pete Steinkopfâ€™s guitars â€“ simple, and totally in control - laid back rock tunes come close to dominating affairs, delivering hook after hook in â€˜Boogie Woogie Downtownâ€™ and single â€˜Airport Securityâ€™, among others.
But worry not, true believers! Mike McDermott would probably disintegrate if he went an entire album without thrashing out a Souls classic, so his perfectly produced drums return in 2010 with â€˜Gasolineâ€™ â€“ a barnstorm of a song that channels the â€˜Manthemâ€™ spirit excellently; he goes from strength to strength from there on in. Mikeâ€™s finest moment, though, is on the title track, where his thunderous toms signal the shift from the verse to the chorus and with it the shift from mere cheeriness to â€˜Hakuna Matataâ€™ levels of bliss. Thatâ€™s where The Bouncing Souls have always excelled, and the punk arsenal here is bolstered by big choruses that will go on to join the greats. // 8
Lyrics and Singing: Maybe it wasnâ€™t their best idea to release â€˜Badassâ€™ as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, because the audience is consequently aware that the band members must all be at least 30-something, and are still making songs about â€˜your momâ€™. But youâ€™ve gotta love it, deep down. Besides that particular excursion into the...badass, the songs deal with life, love and philosophy - conveyed naturally through Greg Attonitoâ€™s affable vocals, of course. Particular highlights are â€˜Dubs Says Trueâ€™ and â€˜We All Sing Alongâ€™, which, on original release, lit up the dreary months of February and March with classic Bouncing Souls optimism and have a similar effect almost a year on. // 8
Impression: Itâ€™d be fair to presume that a band who are this far into their career and starting to tone things down a little might be on their last legs, but the abrasive â€˜Never Say Dieâ€™ is (...unsurprisingly) not the last little bit of punk being wheezed out before things start to simmer down. Even â€˜Like The Sunâ€™, which sounds dangerously like U2 at times, keeps a hold on that spirit which has always been at the centre of a good Bouncing Souls record. â€˜Ghosts On The Boardwalkâ€™ is their most solid effort since â€˜...Summer Vacationâ€™, so grab a copy, put it on and letâ€™s pretend weâ€™re from New Jersey! // 9
- Duncan Geddes aka duncang (c) 2013