They say music can save souls; this is definitely true if that music comes from the Bouncing Souls. The fourth full-length for Epitaph from the New Jersey natives, Anchors Aweigh, places the band under the hand of renown producer John Seymour, who’s worked with Sick of It All and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, among others. After 15 years together, on the road and in the studio, the boys have matured and grown from their experiences, and this release, though different from previous efforts, has a few surprises to keep fans on their toes.
Gone are the upstart punks with dingy, dirty apartments, struggling to make a name for themselves by any means necessary. In their stead are grown men with different issues and problems, and it shows on Anchors Aweigh. But the Souls have the same vim and vigor they had in the beginning, and at the core, they’re still the same punk rockers who can teach younger up-and-coming punk bands a thing or two about punk-rock aesthetics and soul.
Anchors Aweigh off to a roaring start with “Apt. 5F” and doesn’t let go of the listener’s attention. And then the band mixes things up. “Blind Date” features singer Greg Attonito using his classic voice at its best, crooning a pleading appeal, before the band veers back to ripping it up in true punk style on “New Day” and “Highway Kings.” There are songs about loss and heartbreak, like “Todd’s Song” and “The Day I Turned My Back On You,” but also joyous tunes like “Anchors Aweigh” and “Sing Along Forever.” Bassist Bryan Kienlen even lends his voice on a few numbers.
The band has always liked to mix things up while still staying true to the original punk-rock songbook, and that’s no different here. The band sounds tight on Anchors Aweigh, evidence that relentless touring and playing has paid off, giving them more experience and comfort with their instruments. This release, the Soul’s sixth overall, shows the band’s newfound reservoir of depth when it comes to songwriting. It’s complex, moody, pensive and completely honest in an attempt to create more developed songs. It’s presumable that the band the band has set a new course, but the four-piece is still punk to the core. A release definitely capable of saving a few souls.