The Bouncing Souls

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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Pulling together the pusillanimous power of the Ramones, the anthemic shoutalong choruses of Sham 69, the riff sensibilities of Social Distortion, while not sounding a speck like any of these bands, Bouncing Souls deliver up high-octane melodic punk as its meant to be played. Fast, hard, and with more concern for passion than proficiency, the quartet remains a welcome reminder of punk's true soul. Beyond the politics and societal polemics, punk was about kids picking up instruments and slamming out songs for other kids. Talent was a plus, but not a prerequisite, having a point to make about something, anything, even if it wasn't blindingly brilliant, was. Bouncing Souls know this implicitly, and always have, which is why their focus is on energy and attitude. Sure, the odd bum chord or off-tempo beat may slide in to How I Spent My Summer Vacation, but unlike the slick purveyors of punk-by-numbers for the MTV masses, the quartet doesn't go back for the second or third take, not if the feeling is already in place. So, there are no grand philosophies or political stances here, the band preferring to speak directly to young people's lives. So, if you find the infectious "That Song" trite, with its heartfelt lyrics about music shaping one's life, or "Streetlight Serenade," a tribute to the singer's BMX bike, silly, well it just goes to show your teenaged years are far behind you. The Souls are no longer teenagers, either, but they've retained their exuberance, and their memories are strong enough to perfectly recall the concerns and joys of youth. Especially the job, a feeling that sets every track afire. Friendship, relationships, finding oneself, and growing up are the prevalent themes, and the great insight is the lack of insight. There are no answers to be found, just a reflection of ordinary life's adventures, and if the band has a philosophy, it's to enjoy it to the hilt. And that's precisely how summer vacations should be spent.

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