Recordings: The Bouncing Souls – The Gold Record

You might think that this dour critic has a hair up his ass for any music made after 1992, unless it has pre-verse sections in 13/8 time or new devices of electrotrash noise. You might use this as an excuse to ignore this critic’s musings regarding a little-known genre called pop punk. If this is the case, you are incorrect. When you’re raised on the stuff, as any good SoCal boy should be, you tend to be more discerning than the usual Taking Back Sunday-worshipping, black-clad pseudo-romantic asshole.

The Bouncing Souls – The Gold Record

Hence, here is a new pop punk reccommendation: Bouncing Souls, a top act in the Epitaph/Punk O Rama scene, has a new release that’s better than any Less Than Jake nostalgia record or modern bleached-hair emo nonsense. Yes, there’s a Kinks cover (“Better Days”) that might be the happiest song recorded since Fountains of Wayne covered the song. In fact, the entire album, save for a song about Iraq — the no-nonsense lyrics written by an Iraq War veteran — is nothing but feel-good. This is no depressing Bad Religion politicizing, nor does it hold onto any elements of the “my chick left me” young-kid emo status quo. Instead it’s a catchy pop punk set that’s got the basics: three chords, singable “oh oh” vocals and drums/guitar that fill the gaps when needed. But here, there’s something that just works so right it puts all other pop punkers to shame. It’s immediate, enjoyable and for a little blast of time, will help you forget anything else.

I admit that we all need a little pop punk sometimes, and this 45-minute set is just enough of the best of it to forget the bad stuff and keep the summer going on strong.