At this point, it’s worth understanding that you know exactly what to expect from a new Bowling For Soup album. If anything is even remotely surprising, it’s that it’s coming already, only a couple of months after Jaret Reddick’s solo album where anyone could’ve reasonably predicted that promoting that would’ve eaten up a good portion of the year. Apparently though, this was recorded all the way back in 2020, and in all fairness, it has been six years since a new full-length from Bowling For Soup. Their ubiquity in one form or another does a lot to slake that sense of distance, as the old guard of pop-punk continuing to wear their age on their sleeve, at a time when the genre’s current sea change is pushing towards personae of the complete opposite to them. It’s good to have them still around though, even if only for balance’s sake; their earnest, goofy likability places them in a different adjacent camp, and they’ve remained consistent enough for decades to where it tends to produce solid results.
The ribbing, dad joke sensibility of titling their album Pop Drunk Snot Bread doesn’t anticipate for much (because it’s not a good title, let’s be honest), but it’s just a blanket example of how Bowling For Soup have settled into their intentional, good-natured corniness, and how much they can sell it. They might proclaim themselves as the greatest of all time on the opener, but there’s a humble, unassuming personality they’ve developed that can boon a somewhat dated and predictable style of artistic presentation. The likes of Getting Old Sucks (But Everybody’s Doing It) and Wouldn’t Change A Thing are very tried in the mould of willfully getting older and feeling out of touch, and the socio-political leanings on Killin’ ‘Em With Kindness are extremely simplified, but you can’t say that’s not in-keeping with the image that Bowling For Soup have cultivated for years now. After All These Beers underlines it with a wholesome earnestness that’s the best possible outcome for it, just plugging away as they have for years and loving what they’re doing. On the other hand though, that can wear thinner when I Wanna Be Brad Pitt and Alexa Bliss cram in the pop culture references that drive the goofiness in a bit too hard (especially in the former which plays as little more than referencing Brad Pitt films and facts), and Burn Out feels strangely pointed for a latter-day Bowling For Soup song.
Again though, none of it is outside of the realms of expectation for this band. They’re very much continuing their unbroken line across another album to mete out a similar result, and while that doesn’t make for the most tangible thrills, it’s understandable. This sort of all-American pop-punk has been their bread-and-butter since the beginning, and to their credit, it’s not a style for which rust develops too quickly. If anything, the hints of trying something a bit darker and more forceful in the guitar tones of I Wanna Be Brad Pitt and Burn Out are something, and will widen their gamut slightly when there’s already the acoustic / power-pop numbers in The Best We Can and I Wouldn’t Change A Thing. Beyond that, it’s definitely a Bowling For Soup album alright, with all the crunchy, bouncy pop-punk hooks they’ve made their calling card and continue to pump out reasonably well. It’s hard to know what more to say about a band who’ve held on to consistency as doggedly as Bowling For Soup have; Hello Anxiety and June Carter Cash (Lost And Found) do average out to be catchier than normal, with most everything else being a slightly tweaked flavour of what’s preceded it.
And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when the band still clearly enjoy themselves, most noticeably Reddick who wears his youthful spark well in what’s still one of the most distinct voices in the scene. It’s also good to see them sticking to a very organic, classic sound (sans the awkward breakdown for Killin’ ‘Em With Kindness’ hook), an area where their oft-touted love for older music continues to prevail, in sonic ethos if not much else. There’s always a nice, warm crunch to Bowling For Soup albums and this is no different, where even a longer-than-preferred runtime won’t dampen the charm too much. It all basically serves as a reassertion of Bowling For Soup’s immovable presence within pop-punk, a band who’ve been high on their own momentum for years and are just looking to enjoy it as much as they can. In an industry that’s getting more cynical by the day, that can certainly be appreciated, even if the music that comes with it doesn’t smack as the most memorable, like a lot of what’s come before. Even so, it’s always good to see Bowling For Soup come back around, if only because they’re more or less guaranteed to deliver at a certain positive benchmark.
For fans of: Lit, The Dollyrots, Fountains Of Wayne
‘Pop Drunk Snot Bread’ by Bowling For Soup is released on 22nd April on Brando Records / Que-So Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall