Whether or not it was meant to be a statement on the quality of its music, calling this album The Gold Record is appropriate, because the Bouncing Souls have released their best album yet. It's filled with fist-pumping punk anthems as well as some melodic nostalgic-sounding punk rock.
Something Old, Something New, Always Gold
The album kicks off with "The Gold Song" (Listen/Download), and it's pure classic Souls: tight fast punk rock that's easy on the ears. It's what the Bouncing Souls are known for, and what they do best. This track doesn't disappoint, nor do any of the following tracks; song after song, the music is tight and melodic. It's pure punk, but it's not at all abrasive.
But what's this? Accordion and acoustic guitars? Yep. On "The Pizza Song" (Listen/Download), a really outstanding standout on an already outstanding album, is a fun little acoustic tune that points out how far along this band has come over the years, and that they can still make new fresh-sounding music.
While nothing else on The Gold Record displays as drastic a departure from traditional Souls songs as "The Pizza Song", the rest of the album is just as fresh. Their cover of The Kinks' "Better Things" is sweet and tight (Listen/Download), followed by "The Messenger", which is another great bit of melodic punk (Listen/Download).
Pure Punk Sincerity
Lyrically, "The Messenger" could easily be a mantra for the Souls. As frontman Greg Attonito sings, "This is a message to you... do what you love, love what you do", you really can hear him talking from the viewpoint of a blue-collar punk rocker who has spent years doing just that, and the result sounds sincere.
Several other songs seem to come from that viewpoint as well. "So Jersey" is a nostalgic look at the state they call home (Listen/Download), and on the album's closing track "For All The Unheard" (Listen/Download), when Attonito sings to the people who had a passion that was never realized ("This is for all the unheard, all the music left behind, all the songs left on the floors in the closets in our minds"), the music is being carried by the band's long and storied history.
"Letter From Iraq" is another powerful song (Listen/Download). Rather than openly state their opinions of the war, the Souls simply make a powerful statement by taking a soldier's letter and laying a tight punk rock background beneath it.
Sweet, polished and powerful, The Gold Record is the best Bouncing Souls album yet; it's a testament to a band that has been around for so long to still have the ability to nail it on every song.