Asbury Park, NJ is Bruce Springsteen’s town. There’s no two ways about it. So when The Bouncing Souls moved there to write what would become The Gold Record, Bruce’s old ghosts, spirits which permeate the area, were almost sure to appear. It happens to anyone who’s ever been to a rock show at The Stone Pony, Asbury’s most famous jaunt. I’ve seen it time and time again. Shit, I’ve even seen the Souls cover Springsteen at the Pony. Anyway, in 1999 Springsteen made it into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame for the songwriting abilities he honed on the Jersey Shore. In 2006 it’s fitting that the Souls create their latest album on the same hallowed streets. The result is undoubtedly the Bouncing Souls greatest achievement in songwriting and what will be one of the best albums of the year.
Sure, the Bouncing Souls have written some great tunes, but never have so many been put onto one cohesive disc. All the energy of their first few albums are evident as well as the youthful melody of their latter ones. The difference here is an obvious maturity in their ability to craft a multi-layered song that isn’t overly complicated and still accessible to old school fans.
The first track, “The Gold Song” serves as a proper introduction. You can picture it as a fist-pumping, show-opener for years to come. When the chorus comes around and singer Greg Attonito boasts “I heard someone say that nothing gold can stay, but there’s a love in all our souls and it shines like gold,” you realize the Bouncing Souls wear their souls on their sleeves and yes… you can feel the love.
The second track is where I mostly draw the Springsteen parallel. It’s called, oddly enough, “So Jersey” and it’s a love song about risking it all, growing up and the music that provides the soundtrack of hope. The ever-so faint backdrop of piano provides a touch of straight up rock n roll, right out of “Born to Run.” It works beautifully and takes the song to a whole new level, a level only a punk band with the integrity of the Bouncing Souls could pull off without sounding manufactured. The E-Street Band would be proud.
While most of the songs are about love, life, music, and the unspoken for, the lyrics to one of the most heartfelt songs weren’t even written by the band. They were written by a soldier with the U.S. military. “Letters From Iraq” stems from a page on bouncingsouls.com featuring soul baring insight into the thoughts and feelings of soldiers overseas. To hear the words from the pen of someone living in a warzone can be downright chilling. “Underneath the palms, there’s improvised bombs. Because, Jihad Johnny knows Yankee is a liar.” Back that up with a thumping beat and you’ve got yourself the protest song Anti-Flag wish they wrote.
There’s been plenty of positive words written about the Bouncing Souls over the years. I asked a friend not too long ago if he liked them and his response was ‘who doesn’t like the Bouncing Souls?’ They’ve cemented themselves as a group a lot of bands want to be and you know something? They just get better as time goes on. To hear them do what they do is pure love and when you’re that passionate about something, the love does indeed shine like gold.