While perhaps never reaching the gods-of-the-genre status of pop punk contemporaries Blink 182 and Green Day, jovial Texan quintet Bowling for Soup have for nearly two decades been a mainstay of the genre, with hits like ‘Girl all the Bad Guys Want’ and ‘Almost’ remaining punk-disco classics.
Jared and the boys have continued to draw crowds with their tongue-in-cheek lyrics and Lone Star take on a genre crowded with Californians. However, pop punk, while glorious in its heyday, with its radio-friendliness and endorsement from the gaming and teen cinema industries, isn’t a world known for its staying power. By the time these guys reach their 40’s, there’s a need to progress to stay relevant – Blink experimenting with new lineups and sounds, Green Day exploring Americana ennui through narrative rock operas.
Bowling for Soup, for all they’ve had some fun with Christmas albums and a movie showcase, haven’t really evolved much since their apogee in the early 00’s, and while that might be welcome news for dedicated fans, it doesn’t give much pause for a potential new generation of Soupsters to take note. Their 11th effort, Drunk Dynasty can be commended for retaining their signature bouncy and amicable Southern Style – the boys haven’t wavered on the energy. But 20 years in, it’s hard to get too excited about yet another record which plods along through passive aggressive breakup numbers (‘Shit to Do’), well-meaning but somewhat bloodless love songs (‘Hey Diane’, ‘Catalyst’) and mildly interesting covers (Gin Blossoms ‘Hey Jealousy’), not to mention the slightly unsavoury stalker vibe of, ‘She Doesn’t Think Its Ever Gonna Work Out’. Even the humour which has always kept the Soup tracks memorable is strangely worn here – the first play through elicited one half-hearted grin with the line, ‘I didn’t mind when you hung out with my friends, but you weren’t supposed to fuck them’
This isn’t to say there aren’t standouts. ‘Stop Doing That’ is an infectiously catchy track that will likely make a good live number. And closing number, ‘Drinking Beer on A Sunday’ is by far the anomaly – in a sea of fairly generic radio rock it’s a country tinged song with an unexpected and surprisingly poignant underlay, that makes one ponder why they placed the albums best track last.
One genuinely good song, however, does not elevate Drunk Dynasty to much beyond another OK Bowling for Soup album. Anyone new to the band would do better to investigate their early days, though lifelong fans will no doubt find plenty to enjoy here.