The year is almost over, and with it, the Bouncing Souls’ 20th anniversary bonanza. The band played a few birthday gigs, filmed a variety special, and is almost finished debuting a new digital download on the first of every month. 20th Anniversary Series: Volume Three collects three more of those downloads on vinyl (Mine’s on tour-only green with black and red splatter, suckaz) plus another bonus track. The series thus far has been strong, but Volume Three might be the best yet.
Volume One and Two followed a similar formula – two punk rock tunes on the first side, a mid-tempo and a mellow acoustic number on the flipside. Volume Three ditches that idea. “Ghosts on the Boardwalk” opens with some haunting feedback that saturates the whole song. Given that it’s a song about summer and the seven-inch is coming out in September, “Ghosts” takes on an appropriately wistful tone in the vein of Hopeless Romantic’s “Night on Earth.” Its companion on the A side, “Boogie Woogie Downtown,” is the numb twin to Volume One’s “Gasoline.” The song is similarly bitter at the world, but the music’s subdued style is a departure from the band’s raucous material. It’s a logical follow-up to “Ghosts on the Boardwalk,” but man is it a bummer.
“Badass” opens the B side and completely washes away every melancholic thought anyone ever had ever. A fist-pumper akin to a less synth-soaked version of Team America: World Police’s “
While three-quarters of its songs were released over the summer, Volume Three works better as an autumnal record. It’s a little nostalgic, both for company and kung-fu movies. But regardless of the season, it’s still good.