Bowling For Soup - Sorry For Partyin'
It’s very easy to dismiss Bowling For Soup as a joke band given their recent output, especially current single ‘My Wena’, but how many joke bands are on the verge of releasing their tenth studio album? However, ever since they burst into the mainstream with the pop-punk perfection of ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’ and winning a Grammy in the process, they have been in danger of becoming a parody of themselves and it was a joke that was running thin which culminated in the disappointing last album, The Great Burrito Extortion Case. Fortunately it seems ten could be a luckier number to the band than nine ever was.
Opener ‘A Really Cool Dance Song’ is an indication of just how good Bowling For Soup can be when they get the balance between comedy and music right. Mocking the recent music trends towards dance music, the track is the band’s version of a dance song which even culminates with a synth solo albeit from a borrowed keyboard. As the band loudly proclaim in the chorus that “it’s gonna be a great big hit”, the ironic thing is that one could easily see this track being a hit if released as it manages to be extremely catchy and funny at the same time.
Humour is still an important weapon in Bowling For Soup’s musical armoury on this album but, fear not, it does not always fall into the sexual innuendo category. There is playful humour on ‘No Hablo Inglés’, where Jaret argues that all you need to get out of any situation is the phrase ‘No Hablo Inglés’, and cynical humour on ‘I Don’t Wish You Were Dead Anymore’ which turns the conventions of break-up songs on their head. Sorry For Partyin' doesn't avoid immature humour altogether but these attempts prove hit and miss, such as 'BFFF' which is too crude for its own good. A perfect example of the divisive nature of Bowling For Soup’s trademark humour is on ‘My Wena’ where while some will view it as a puerile, childish attempt at humour, there are just as many who will love its immature, unsubtle nature. A credit to Bowling For Soup’s writing ability is that whatever way you view it, it would work as a love song if it was some other name in the title.
What’s often overlooked amidst all the humour is that Bowling For Soup are still an extremely capable pop-punk band. After repeat listens, the humour loses its initial appeal, much like it would if you watched your favourite comedian’s stand up several times, and therefore the band couldn’t just survive on humour alone. The majority of the songs on the album come with a persistent succession of catchy hooks and drumbeats. This is especially evident on 'Hooray For Beer’, the band's love song to their favourite drink. Once the initial sniggers have worn off, it’s the opening hook that have you nodding along and by the time the chorus comes, you’ll practically want to kiss the nearest beer to you and raise it up and down in the air in time with the beat.
Having experimented with it with mixed results on the last album, Sorry For Partyin’ contains two absolutely superb power ballads in ‘Only Young’ and ‘Me With No You’ with the former lamenting the need to grow up quickly, and the latter proving surprisingly heartfelt and touching break-up song. ‘Only Young’ is more in the imitable Bowling For Soup pop-punk style while ‘Me With No You’ sees the band go down the acoustic route, but both contain choruses worthy of a mass lighter wave (or mobile phone wave for all the non-smokers out there) and should be played to any naysayers out there who still believe that Bowling For Soup are just a joke band.
Unfortunately the album does tail off towards the end with the band playing with different styles, such as the rap-esque verses of ‘I Gotchoo’ and the harder rock edge of ‘Love Goes Boom’, with none of them really succeeding. It’s hard not to admire a band that wants to show as many different sides of themselves on one album, but when they had already cut the album down to 14 tracks from the 27 that were recorded, you almost wish that they had been a bit more brutal and ended after ‘If Only’ for a really strong ten track album.
The difficulty with reviewing a band like Bowling For Soup is that they are the very definition of a Marmite band. Any album of theirs might as well be the musical equivalent of eating Marmite breadsticks dipped in Marmite and topped off with Marmite cheddar bites. The safest way to review them would be to say that if you were already a fan, then you’ll enjoy Sorry For Partyin’ but otherwise stay away. However, that would be detrimental to the album and the band who have definitely grown up over the past couple of years since their last album. Sorry For Partyin’ still visits the band in playful, sexual innuendo mood but also showcases their maturity and strong musical ability to craft a killer hook and match it with witty lyrics. Ignore your opinions of ‘My Wena’ and give the album a go, you may be pleasantly surprised.