One of the bands mentioned back in February during my 2011: The Year that Pop Punk Strikes Back feature, BOWLING FOR SOUP have positioned themselves as a unique player in a packed field. While many of their peers have evolved into something far beyond their pop punk roots, BFS is unapologetic in carrying a torch for the light-hearted genre in which they’ve carved out a nearly two-decade niche. They’re damn good at what they do, and for their diehard fans there’s safety in knowing that the band will continue to deliver.
On FISHIN’ FOR WOOS, their 11th(!) studio album, the band makes good with a solid set of straightforward rockers that sound like you’ve stepped back in time, and there’s nothin’ wrong with that. As with every BFS record, the lyrics are where much of the entertainment lies, and on ‘WOOS they’ve become vastly self-aware that the band is essentially staffed with the old dudes of the scene now. There’s nods to Weezer, Motley Crue, Husker Du/Bob Mould, and Tonic, along with the longevity of BFS as a band. I’ve Never Done Anything Like This features an appearance by the always-welcome Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo fame, and while it might be a year or two dated, Dear Megan Fox (iTunes bonus track) has a feel that brings to mind Size 14’s Claire Danes Poster (a song covered once upon a time by BFS). Like The Force through a Skywalker, the 1990’s flows through this record, consciously or not.
I’ve always suspected (though I don’t have proof) that the guys in BOWLING FOR SOUP may have an easier time paying the rent/mortgage than some of their bigger-name, bigger-selling peers. Sure, they’ve had some big hits, but while the band may not have achieved the notoriety that they’ve deserved, they’ve done a great job with song placement on television and in motion pictures. Doing theme songs is good business, and you don’t get to your eleventh album without doing something right.