When I met Bowling For Soup bassist Erik Chandler back in October and we discussed the new BFS album, he remarked that it was going to have a “more traditional Bowling For Soup 2 guitars bass and drums sound”, after they had done various experimenting on the last couple of albums. Since I have been very fortunate enough to be one of the first people in the UK to get their hands on “Fishin For Woos“, Bowling For Soup’s 11th full length record, I’ve had the chance to find out if a return to more traditional ways can be classed as a good thing or a bad thing. This album was always going to be interesting as the band have set up their own record label (of sorts) to release the album, making this the first BFS record that the band has had total control over in over a decade. Unsurprisingly, they got their friend and longtime collaborator Linus Of Hollywood to produce the album (having also produced the last album, Sorry For Partyin).
The album starts off with a bang with “Lets Pretend We’re Not In Love”, which is, truly to Erik Chandler’s words, a fantastic traditional band driven BFS song, complete with the catchy guitar hooks and instantly “singalongtoable” chorus. Girls In America is another high tempo containing everything you’d hope to find in a great Bowling For Soup song (plus a nod to the quality of British women and a tongue in cheek reference about getting laid, alot!).
Promo single S-S-S-Saturday is another quality song about living for the weekend with its chorus of “I wish every night was Saturday night” and the feelgood vibe of the album can be felt even more keenly than on previous BFS albums. BFS have proven that they can also the occasional more serious or sad song and do them very well (such as When We Die or Goodbye Friend) and next track What About Us is something of an acoustic lament of times gone by which works very well. The fun side of things instantly returns with “Here’s Your Freakin Song”, one for all the girls (or boys) who always wanted a song written for them. Incredibly tongue-in-cheek and one of the funniest BFS songs to date, this song fits the album like a personally tailored glove.
The next song, This Ain’t My Day is possibly the first truly fun song about being depressed and having rotten luck as it puts a very happy tone on being down with a great riff, a really catchy bridge and plenty of clap along moments, expect to see crowds of people bouncing around to this if it gets played at a song near you. Smiley Face (Its All Good) slows things down just a touch and allows frontman Jaret Reddick to show off some of his vocal range (which is considerable as anyone who’s been to a BFS acoustic show will attest to). Smiley Face has a slightly different feel to the rest of the tracks before it but still maintains the overall theme of happiness throughout the album and does so in an enjoyable way.
Lead single Turbulence may have been written with half a mind on the aforementioned acoustic tours as it is predominantly powered by acoustic guitars in the beginning and is a slow building rock ballad about getting to where you want to be in life despite the “turbulence” along the way. It has the same sort of feel to “When We Die” from A Hangover You Don’t Deserve and is equally as affective. It also allows Erik Chandler and Chris Burney to show off with some quality backing vocals. A guaranteed singalong hit and a “lighter” moment at festivals, it could be a very successful single for them.
My personal favourite track is “I’ve Never Done Anything Like This”, which features a guest appearance from Kay Hanley from US rock chic led group Letters To Cleo. An amusing tale of sex and debauchery wrapped in friendly sounding riffs and vocal arrangements, this is about as good as light hearted rock or pop punk gets. The same could also be said for “Friends Chicks Guitars (and no beer)”, a song originally released online before the UK BFS tour last October. A story of continuously forgetting to nominate someone to get the booze in, it has become a firm live favourite already.
Towards the end of the album there is an unexpected bonus for longtime, hardcore Bowling For Soup fans. Guard My Heart, a song originally written by Erik Chandler around the year 2002 and a favourite with live crowds down the years finally makes its long awaited debut on a BFS album after a slight update with the title Guard My Heart (2010). A quality rock song about love, it has a much more mature feel than the rest of the album but does not feel out of place and will be good listening for old and new fans alike. The album concludes with Graduation Day, a laid back, acoustic nod to the ritual that all of us go through at some point in our lives be it from school, college or university.
Over the years, Bowling For Soup have written some truly fantastic songs, but there have always been two or three really strong songs on each album meaning that some people have labelled them more of a “great singles” band (not an accusation I personally agree with). This album should do an awful lot to disspell that notion. Whilst people will undoubtedly have their favourites, none of the songs strikes me as being “weaker” or “stronger” than any of the others and the quality of the album is consistently high throughout.
Bowling For Soup have always been one of the most fun bands in worldwide rock and Fishin For Woos totally backs that up. This album is the perfect summer fun time album, much like Sum 41′s All Killer No Filler from a decade ago it is a perfect album to put on at a BBQ or party and let just it play and have a good time. On top of that, it’s possibly the finest album of their 17 year career. If this is what happens when the band have total control over their albums, long may they stay independent from the record companies.
Stand out tracks: The whole thing (especially I’ve Never Done Anything Like This, Friends Chicks Guitars, Guard My Heart 2010).
Release Date: April 25th 2011
For Fans Of: Good happy fun music! Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, Kids In Glass Houses, A, The Dollyrots, Forever The Sickest Kids