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Music Review: The Bouncing Souls – Ghosts on the Boardwalk

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2009 saw New Jersey’s Bouncing Souls turn 20. As part of the celebration, the punkers released one song a month for the entire year. The resulting 12-song bombardment can be found on the band’s latest album, Ghosts on the Boardwalk.

For a record comprised of songs developed apart from each other, there’s a considerable amount of flow to Ghosts. The album rolls through an impressive gamut of styles, but the Souls maintain their rebellion and old-timey sentiment through it all. The tracks set well, forming one big Jersey jumble while paying duty to every Soulful era over the last two decades.

The Bouncing Souls even pay a little tribute to Springsteen, building on their working-class sentiment while leaving the anthemic fun and exuberance right where it belongs.

Fans of the Bouncing Souls will find a lot to hop around to here, as the energy is as contagious 20 years in as it’s ever been. For new fans, Ghosts on the Boardwalk has enough variation to keep things moving.

In filling the longest gap between albums for the band, Ghosts has a lot to make up for in the eyes of the hardened fans.

Making a record filled with 12 songs released throughout 2009 is a bit of a risk, but these guys pull it off due to the sheer likeability of these songs. The quartet stretches out and lingers in the cleverness of tracks like “Big Eyes,” a track that the Boss could have put together.

Standard Souls stuff fills the first bit of the record with the expected frenzy. Cuts like “Gasoline” and “Never Say Die/When You’re Young” should fill pits with reeking moshers and shirtless kids. And the title track grabs for that mid-tempo sweetness the guys are so good at.

Albums like this are tremendous measuring sticks for the progress of a band. With Ghosts on the Boardwalk, the Bouncing Souls prove that they’re a relevant punk act and that they’ve still got shit to do. Songs like “Like the Sun” take guts to pull off, but these Jersey rockers coat the melodies in just the right amount of joy and pain.

In the end, Ghosts is an epic record. It really is the culmination of 20 years of blood, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluids. It is every festival stage, every crowded bar, every empty school gym, every Jersey haunt, every late night, every best friend’s couch, and every dead-end street. It is, to the Bouncing Souls, everything.

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