Well, if there’s one thing that happens as regular as clockwork it’s Bowling For Soup‘s October tour of the UK and I for one never miss it. Usually hitting these shores for an acoustic tour with just Jaret and Erik in April they grace this fair isle with the full monty in the autumn and we should all be thankful they keep coming back to punch us in the face with a big fist made of fun. There is very little that makes me as unashamedly drooling-grin-happy as seeing this band live. I spend much of my time listening to serious prog epics and furious death metal but every now and then I need my fix of Bowling For Soup.
Their warmth and humour is infectious but also quite genuine and it’s something that, unlike many of their peers, they seem to manage to capture in the studio too. Despite being on the verge of hitting the big time some years ago it never quite happened and they remain the plucky underdogs to this day. Jaret and writing partner Linus Of Hollywood seem able to shit out pop punk anthems time after time with never a drop in quality or effervescence.
With the frequency of their recorded output I genuinely greet each release with a worry that they can’t possibly produce anything as catchy or uplifting as previous classics such as ‘Punk Rock 101’, ‘The Bitch Song’, ‘My Wena’ or ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’, but damn it all if they don’t pull that bunny out of the hat every single time. There is something sincere and heartfelt about Jaret‘s lyrics that have a whiff of nostalgia here and there and always a sharp sense of self-deprecation that mean that although on the surface these are dumb singalong rock tunes, they are actually intelligently written celebrations of life’s rich tapestry – the ups, the downs and the humdrum too.
Their latest “One Big Happy Tour” sees them bringing their previous touring buddies The Dollyrots back again along with expertly coiffured young upstarts Patent Pending. To accompany this outing is a neat little package in the form of this CD. Featuring all three bands doing a new number of their own and then a cover of each of the other two bands makes for a 9 track even split, plus there’s the bonus of a duet between Jaret and Dollyrots‘ Kelly Ogden to round it out.
We kick off with Bowling For Soup newbie ‘Let’s Go To The Pub’ – a welcome nod to the British drinking culture they so lovingly embrace (and somehow manage to survive every night and still put on great shows the next day when they tour the UK). With a riff that makes you smile and a chorus you’ll be howling along to as soon as you hear it this is sure to be a live staple for years to come.
Next up The Dollyrots treat us to a snotty, searing version of the aforementioned ‘Bitch Song’ and then Patent Pending pick the less well known Bowling For Soup track ‘Shut Up And Smile’. Although I am not a huge fan of their own stuff this is a great version and keeps the momentum going nicely.
Next up the Dollyrots‘ new track ‘Just Like All The Rest’ makes it abundantly clear they are Bowling For Soup fans themselves, but with their own niche carved out and a sound to call their own. It pounds along with a stonking bass-driven riff and a huge chorus that will root its way into your brain like a parasitic worm. For me Bowling For Soup doing ‘My Heart Explodes’ sounds even better than the original but that’s perhaps my personal preference for Jaret‘s voice. Obviously Kelly and Luis of the Dollyrots take all the credit for penning this gem though.
Patent Pending put in a decent enough version of ‘Hyperactive’ but Joe‘s vocals really don’t seem strong enough for the soaring melody Kelly laid down on the original. They shine on their cut ‘Psycho In Love’ though which has an absolute smasher of a riff and bittersweet lyrics that will strike a chord with anyone who ever got dumped. Next up, the stars of this venture Bowling For Soup get to rip through ‘Little Miss Impossible’. Possibly the best cover on offer here – a great song made even better with the Jaret and Erik vocal combo at work.
Finishing off is cheeky non-ballad ‘Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya’ which fans of Jaret‘s unique take on romantic poetry in song will absolutely adore. The best love/hate singalong chorus he’s done for years and one I won’t spoil here – you really need to hear it for yourself. The whole thing is one big barrel of joy and an absolute belter from all three protagonists in this aural party.
Catch them on tour and do get their early to see all three bands, but also do your bit to ensure they keep coming back to visit by getting hold of this album immediately. You won’t regret it – unless you hate fun.