The Bouncing Souls

Ghosts On The Boardwalk

Written by: PP on 11/01/2010 22:06:40

I've been meaning to check out The Bouncing Souls for ages, having only heard a few tracks on the occasional sampler in the past. You know the feeling when a band has like seven albums already and you have absolutely no idea where to start, so you procrastinate until a new album is released? That's basically a description of my relationship to The Bouncing Souls, as ludicrous as it sounds, so don't expect a detailed comparative-review to their old material, because I'm just not familiar enough with it. Anyways, "Ghosts On The Boardwalk" is the 8th Souls album, and although it consists of 12 tracks, all of them were actually released last year as a part of the band's 20th anniversary series, where the band released one new track per month during 2009. "Ghosts..." is the first record where all of the songs are collected on one disc, however, and it makes way more sense to review a full record than individual singles, so here we are.

Based on the few Souls songs I've heard in the past, they're just like any punk band in that they haven't changed their sound at all for the better part of the last decade or so. That's why they've influenced bands like The Loved Ones, Face To Face, Blink 182 and even Rancid over the years, evident in many of the songs on "Ghosts On The Boardwalk" which essentially sound like a hybrid of all those bands together, except the knowledge that Souls were around before any of them hovers in your mind constantly while listening to the record. Lets take a few examples: "Gasoline" opens the album with a similar melody-explosion as in many The Loved Ones songs, featuring Greg Attonito's signature high-pitch pop punk vocals that also feature Tim Armstrong (Rancid) and Brian Fallon (The Gaslight Anthem)'s smoky styles mixed in, making Mr Attonito difficult to mistake for anyone else than himself. "When You're Young" kicks up the pace a few notches into a hyperactive hardcore punk-based track, except the sound's rather clean and polished, though still nicely rough around the edges. Enough so to get a fan of raw punk rock excited, anyway. The song borrows equally much from pop punk as it does from hardcore punk in that sense, which is a balance only a handful of bands throughout music history have been able to master.

The title track has a monster sing along in it, while "Airport Security" and "Mental Bits" roll along lazily, remotely sounding like the latest Rancid album mostly because Attonito's voice is nearly as smoky as Tim Armstrong's here. The bass lines are big and chunky, a major part of the sound in all songs, supplementing the bright, hook-driven guitars nicely. Then you've got "Boogie Woogie Downtown" which starts off with a guitar line/vocal dynamic that's almost straight off "Take Off Your Pants & Jacket"-era Blink 182. So as you can see, The Bouncing Souls can play a wide variety of punk styles, and the best part is that they're frighteningly consistent in delivering the goods. There isn't a song which you would leave off this release, which is rare these days, because each track has something different to offer for the listener.

One of my favorite aspects about "Ghosts On The Boardwalk", and I guess The Bouncing Souls in general, is how the band are able to go from slow-to-medium pace to lightning speed, Guttermouth-esque tracks like "Badass", and hold the immensely catchy song structures and sing alongs intact regardless of which style is being applied to the song. The result is a varied album that's infinitely more interesting to listen to than a monotonous, one-tone punk album. So what more can I say? To sum up, "Ghosts On The Boardwalk" is full of bright, melodic punk/pop punk in the unmistakable Souls way. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an entire back catalogue to cycle through.


Download: Gasoline, Badass, When You're Young, Mental Bits
For the fans of: The Loved Ones, Face To Face, Guttermouth, Rancid, Blink 182
Listen: Myspace

Release date 12.01.2010

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