Bouncing Souls - Comet (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bouncing Souls

Comet (2012)

Rise Records

As a Bouncing Souls superfan, I will go to bat for just about anything the band has released up this point. Those first seven records are essential, life-affirming listening for punk fans. Heck, "Kid" was my high school yearbook quote. But even I can admit that the band has had somewhat of a creative backslide as of late. The single series that became Ghost on the Boardwalk yielded some great tunes, and even flashes of the band's old humor, but as an overall record, it came off a little homogenous. Follow-up Comet is a lot of firsts for the band: First for Rise Records, first time recording with Bill Stevenson and, unfortunately, the first disappointing Souls album.

The Souls have been gradually shifting away from punk rock since The Gold Record. That is to say, Gold and Comet's best tracks are the least punk ("The Pizza Song," "So Jersey," the covers for the former; "Coin Toss Girl," "Ship in a Bottle" for the latter). I actually wouldn't mind hearing the Souls pursue that path more, if only because it would allow the band to expand its scope.

When the Souls stick to what's worked before, they kind of rip themselves off a bit. Opener "Baptized" recuts the intro to Anchors Aweigh's "Blind Date." "Static" sings about the radio for the umpteenth time. "We Love Fun" repeats the same word over and over until it loses all meaning, just like "Badass," only not nearly as awesome.

But then a track like "Coin Toss Girl" will come on and just sound effortlessly catchy and fun. It also briefly pulls a Misfits out of nowhere ("I think I'd like to marry her / I think I'd like to bury her"). Comet finds the band occasionally trying to return to its faster style, but honestly, I'm OK with the Souls slowing down as they approach middle age.

Comet isn't a terrible album. It doesn't contain any embarrassing lows, but it also doesn't have any soul-lifting highs either. Rather, it has a couple of tracks I wouldn't mind hearing live (and really, it's not like Ghosts ever penetrated the band's live set too deeply, so I doubt this will impact their shows in either direction). It doesn't taint my memories of the band. But after writing this review, I doubt I'll think about it much, and I've never felt that way about a Souls record before.