The Bouncing Souls

The Gold Record

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There's something to be said for a band that can be in the game for nearly two decades and not only remain relevant, but still retain the spirit and exuberance of a band just starting out. Not only do the Bouncing Souls consistently do just this on each album, but their songs -- at heart just basically melodic pop-punk -- never sound tired. The Souls are always as fresh and invigorating as the first time you heard them, and The Gold Record, their seventh studio full-length, proves this once again. Surrounded by a warm glow, the record has the feeling of being part of some extended rock family, with 12 strong tracks that play as if band classics like "True Believers" and "Gone" were actually the basis for an entire album. The guys are all about going through life as a bunch of friends from Jersey -- growing up but remaining forever young at heart. Songs are filled with lyrics of self-empowerment, friendship, reflection, and paying homage to the part music has played in shaping their own lives. Arguably one of their finest pit anthems to date, "The Gold Song" is absolute classic Bouncing Souls, with tight rhythms and a rousing chorus ("I heard someone say/That nothing gold can stay/But there's a love in all our souls and it shines like gold") prime for fist-in-the-air singalong action. The politically fierce "Letter from Iraq" is one of the most affecting songs on the record, as its lyrics are actually the product of a letter from an American soldier, Garett Reppenhagen, stationed in Iraq. [The Souls had been pen pals with him since meeting at a 2003 gig for GIs in Germany, posting his letters on their website over the years.] However, the album isn't all just tight riffage, spirited background vocals, and breakneck beats, as "The Pizza Song" integrates acoustic guitar and accordion with delicious results. Two covers are also included -- Avoid One Thing's "Lean on Sheena" and the Kinks' "Better Things" -- but they actually sound more like originals than reworked songs. Simply put, The Gold Record is a shining mark on the already illustrious career of the Bouncing Souls in the punk underground. Appropriately titled (even if sales sadly never reach that mark), it's a record sure to stand the test of time for old, new, and future fans alike.

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