Published Jul 29, 2016It's really a shame that the pop-punk scene has garnered such a poor reputation in the past decade, especially as emo has thrived. Long before the insipid Hot Topic mall-punk scene, bands like the Descendents helped perfect the art of tastefully infusing pop hooks with punk rock intensity; for the past 20 years or so, the Bouncing Souls have also been creating furiously catchy hook-laden punk, and doing it well.
A solid fixture in today's punk rock world, the band have forged a simple and familiar sound that they've come to be relied upon for, with fast tempos, fetching hooks and big shout-along choruses. They have released a handful of great albums that are perfect testaments to this tried and true sonic recipe, though it's made it hard for the band to broaden their scope. Besides the fact that their fans can be unforgiving, many of the times the band have tried to break out have sounded insincere and contrived. Their latest, Simplicity, is mostly a nice welcome back to form for the band.
Right out of the gate, the band stake their claim to glory with album opener "Driving All Night." Hitting the ground running with a song propelled by driving power-chorded fury, the song is everything the band ere always great for. The tempo is fast but not without groove, and is punctuated with a perfectly melodic chorus. They keep the pace going with followup track "Euphoria," which maintains the momentum with more purposeful punk rock attack and an absolutely glorious "whoa"-driven chorus. It's easily an album highlight.
The band eases off on the gas a little bit for the next couple of numbers. "Satellite" is a slower offering that just feels a bit too safe, and interrupts the pace of the record, while the next song, "Digital Twilight Zone" picks things up but feels a bit too formulaic. Things start to feel a bit tired here, and the next few songs fall into a similar vein, for the most part.
"Writing on The Wall" begins the album's second wind, and in triumphant fashion. Here we have lots of classic-sounding rhythmic punch, and a sweeping, anthemic chorus. "Rebel Song" continues this same vibe and steers the album clear into sweet redemption. "Tightrope" is a bit slower, but offers a nicely executed rhythm and one of the more melodic moments of the album on the chorus. The album's closer, "Up To Us," is a well-written mid-tempo rocker that is highlighted by lyrical poignancy as it offers tribute to life-long friends.
The band have always fostered the ideals of banding together and celebrating individuality and dissent in the spirit of punk rock, and Simplicity lives up to that reputation. It's a welcome return to the Bouncing Souls' trademark sound underscored by the simple idea that we're all in this together to fight the good fight — and that there's no reason it can't also be a good time. (Rise Records / Chunksaah Records)