As well-worn as Bowling For Soup’s shtick is – the goofy, slightly ageing pop-punks whose sole existence is based around some casual fun – it’s served them incredibly well. Sure, 2013’s Lunch Drunk Love went by without so much of a whisper, but its predecessor, 2010’s Fishin’ For Woos showed a band whose penchant for lightweight, enjoyable music was still present, albeit not as strong as some of their early 2000s material.
The thing is though, Bowling For Soup albums these days feel largely inessential, and that’s exactly the case with Drunk Dynasty, an album that’s come virtually out of nowhere to everyone except those who pledged towards it, thanks to a lack of lead singles and the fact that the Texans are nowhere close to pop-punk’s pinnacle anymore. But the fact that Drunk Dynasty was originally intended as an EP but was fleshed out to a full album thanks to the influx of pledges shows that people clearly still care, and with the end product, it’s easy to see why – Bowling For Soup mightn’t be cool or the hot name in pop-punk anymore, but they can still pump out damn solid albums on a regular basis. This mainly boils down to consistency; on Drunk Dynasty, there’s nothing that particularly wows, but it remains decent enough across the board to not be yet another older band clinging onto their waning shreds of relevancy.
It also helps that Bowling For Soup remain competent songwriters over two decades into their career. Again, it’s fairly standard stuff for them – light, humourous lyrics, largely about relationships and drinking with Jaret Reddick’s cartoonish delivery keeping it all buoyed up – but they’ve managed to maintain a similarly deft wit after all this time. On the whole, it’s pretty basic conceptually – Shit To Do sees Reddick having enough of a girl who he deems a “psychopath” and leaving, while the content of She Doesn’t Think That It’s Ever Gonna Work Out can pretty much be deduced from the title – but it’s all played so straight and with such little malicious intent that it’s kind of endearing. Couple that with the fact that Catalyst and Drinkin’ Beer On A Sunday would be really sweet coming from any band, not just Bowling For Soup, and Drunk Dynasty as a package feels like one that’s difficult to utterly dislike.
But then again, that’s where this album’s biggest fault lies, in that Bowling For Soup are so comfortable in their own lane that their last couple of releases have just slunk away into the background, and Drunk Dynasty is no exception. That’s the problem with the way this album lies, constantly middle-of-the-road without anything that pops out, and though their cover of The Gin Blossoms’ Hey Jealousy comes close, the original is the kind of quirky, jangly pop-rock that this band are well-known lovers of, and it becomes a bit predictable. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being predictable if it’s at a level that can warrant such a steadfast reliance on one aspect, but Bowling For Soup just aren’t that. It gets to a point where the quirks that Bowling For Soup have been known for in the past (for example, referencing other artists, this time including Frank Turner, All Time Low and The Maine) become full-blown rehashes of ideas, both from other bands (Don’t Be A Dick takes more than a few creative liberties from Goldfinger’s Spokesman) and even themselves, like on Hey Diane which could be 1985 Pt. 2.
Then again, it’s hardly a surprise that, after all this time, Bowling For Soup are beginning to get a bit repetitive. They’ve probably stuck the landing when it comes to this sort of thing more times than many would’ve expected, so it’s no hardship to give them some leeway. And even though Drunk Dynasty feels slightly perfunctory in that its only purpose seems to be keeping the ball rolling, it’s not a bad album by any means, a decent slice of big, dumb fun, even it it will only last a couple of weeks. If you’ve never been converted to Bowling For Soup before, Drunk Dynasty won’t be the album to change that, but there are far worse time-wasters out there than this.
For fans of: All Time Low, Lit, Smash Mouth
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Drunk Dynasty’ by Bowling For Soup is out now on Brando Records / Que-So Records.