The year-long celebration of all things Bouncing Souls continues with 20th Anniversary Series: Volume Two. Collected are three more songs from the band’s ongoing song-a-month digital download project, as well a bonus track, an acoustic demo of Volume One’s “Gasoline.” Generally speaking, it’s the same set-up as Volume One: Two fist-pumping punk anthems on the A-side, with a mid-tempo game-changer followed by an acoustic number on the flipside. The diversity is in the details.
“Dub Says True” and “I Think That the World” are Gold Record-style winners. “Dub Says True” is a testament to friendship, but for it me it doubles as a song about my love of the Souls. It’s all there in the chorus – “You say we have been there for you / In all the tough times of your life / Remember you have been there too,” says Attonito before the whole band shouts, “We always will be true.” For the last eight years of my life, the Souls have filled my days with life-affirming joy. And no matter how emo I felt or how many Dashboard Confessional/Smiths/Bright Eyes smoothies I concocted, they pulled me back up.
Oh yeah, and “I Think That the World” is a cute little love song.
The B-side starts off happy with the easy/breezy/harmonica-laden “The Mental Bits.” It’s more laidback than some punkers might appreciate, but it’s still a fun song. Bonus cut “Gasoline,” in sharp contrast, is not so fun. It’s depressing, and having to move my record needle over the locked groove to get to it gets annoying after a while. To be honest, this demo feels a little like a copout, given that Volume One offered “A Life Less Ordinary,” an actual new track. That said, the demo brings the band’s lyrics into focus. Without a punk tempo to liven things up, Attonito’s nihilistic disdain for the world and himself fully comes through. It’s a major downer after all the peace, love, and harmony from the first three songs, but it’s also a reminder that the Souls know how to get dark.
“Gasoline” aside, Volume Two is a solid summer seven-inch, delivering songs about love, friendship, and good times. I’m not sure yet where it ranks in terms of the overall series. Volume One is a hair stronger, while Volume Three promises a ukulele version of “Quick Chek Girl,” which I’m pretty sure has to be awesome times a thousand, but Souls fans should be downright satisfied with the latest addition to the band’s discography.