It's a band that's so nonconfrontational in their sound that the announcement that their latest, Fishin' For Woos, is the product of a break from Jive Records, their label for the past decade, would be shocking if it weren't accompanied with the disclaimer that the breakup was amicable, and the band was simply enjoying their newfound freedom.
And if Fishin' For Woos is what freedom sounds like, you can pour me up a double.
Because on Fishin' For Woos, the sound is more of what we expect and love from BFS; it's pop punk polish that unabashedly leans toward the poppier side of things. The paradox of BFS lies in their lyrics, which are clever and often downright hilarious. They flirt with innuendo that's often barely veiled, and the end result is sort of sound that doesn't pander to 12 year-olds, even if its polished pop surface may seem to upon initial inspection.
Fishin' For Woos is the sort of cruising record that is made for road trips in a car with the windows down and the volume cranked. Songs like "Girls In America" and "S-S-S-Saturday" maintain the hooks, bounce and feelgood fluff of their previous hits like "1985," and are simply made for a good time.
And yet I don't want to go out of my way to paint BFS as this wussified pop machine, or a band with zero substance. It's just that the substance they do carry isn't the typical punk rock substance. They're not raging against any machines, they're not looking to pump some thickhead hardcore ragers into going a few rounds on one another, and they're not even about doing anything over the top. BFS, and Fishin' For Woos is a record about simply having a good time, and I will defer their lyrics on "Friend Chicks Guitars" to sum up their vibe better that I can:
This has been a great night - no one got into a fight Met some girls, saw a band, everything went just as planned...
It's the sort of summer soundtrack for the nights that aren't memorable for big events, or momentous occasions. As it winds through tracks like hilarious "Here's Your Freakin' Song," a slap at a pretty bad relationship that is more humorous than bittersweet, and the mildly naughty "I’ve Never Done Anything Like This,” which featuring Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo - you eventually realize that yeah, it's the sort of record for a night where everything is just right. Just fun. And just perfect.
Its worth noting another landmark for this album. Along with it marking the band entering an era of self-determination, it marks the full-production appearance of “Guard My Heart,” a song that's going to make a lot of longtime BFS fans very happy. Originally written by bassist Erik Chandler for a film called Sardines, the rough demo was leaked online in 1997, and it became a big favorite. With Fishin' For Woos, the band has finally brought forward a fully produced version of the song, and it was well worth the wait, with it's smooth, groove that mixes a touch of twang with a sound that pays big props to the Gin Blossoms. Musically, it's a big departure from the hook-laden pop power of the rest of the record, but for the sake of completion, it's about time it reared it's head in a polished product.
BFS is the sort of band that simply exists to be pleasing and pleasant. They're not here to push any envelopes, because nobody wants to push envelopes all the time. They're not lacking in substance, but they don't want to force-feed you so much substance that they become guilty of substance abuse, either. If you feel like smiling and listening to music that's more about the time you're having than anything actually happening, this may be your new summer soundtrack.
Release Dated - April 26, 2011