The Bouncing Souls – How I Spent My Summer Vacation

One of the most memorable shows I’ve ever been to happens to be a Bouncing Souls show back in 1998. Not only did their music come to life on stage, but their presence and energy reflected just how much fun both they and the crowd were having. After going absolutely nuts over their Maniacal Laughter CD, I was a little disappointed with what has followed; a string of mediocre releases, a half assed live CD and little flair. True, the Souls themselves did a little soul searching. They went away for a little bit, regrouped … and whatever it was they went off and found, I’d like a big chunk of it myself.

This is the record that should have followed Maniacal Laughter– after being subjected to an unhealthy dose of pop punk, that dirty three lettered “four letter word”, hardcore, metal and everything that has been flooding the market as of late, it is truly refreshing to listen to something like this. Punk fucking rock like only the Bouncing Souls can do. This is a fun record, when was the last time a record was fun? Punk rock with a side helping of oi complete with gang vocals, sing-a-longs and a nice bunch of “oi oi oi’s!”

Standout tracks include the machine gun like “Better Life”, the great sing-a-long “True Believers” and perhaps the best track of the record, “Manthem”. A terrific song which boasts ‘fun for all’ – reminiscent of NOFX’s “The Brews”. While the Souls have never been one to follow suit, they seem to have realized the changing faces in the crowd. They seem to realize what makes a record successful nowadays – and they’ve adapted. While bits and pieces of melody, heartfelt moments are present on this record, it no way implies the Souls are somewhat jumping ship. No way! Listening to How I Spent My Summer Vacation reminds me of why I got into this music in the first place.

(Epitaph Records)