A few weeks ago I accompanied my husband to his 20th class reunion even though I avoided my own last year. The reason why was repeated over and over through the course of the evening, many times by my own husband. “If only I could go back, knowing now what I knew then.”
I tend to feel more like the sentiment expressed in the first single from Bowling For Soup’s The Great Burrito Extortion Case. “High School Never Ends” is a pop-punk rant against the nation’s fascination with pop culture, likening it to the obsessive cliques in high school. It declares Brad Pitt the quarterback of the football team, Reese Witherspoon the prom queen, and Bill Gates the captain of the chess team, and is rather put off by the fact the “high school” attitudes they thought were left behind exist bigger than life in the real world.
Bowling for Soup hail from Denton, Texas and they’re best known for their 2002 Grammy nominated song, “Girl All the Bad Guys Want,” from their album Drunk Enough to Dance and their blockbuster radio hit “1985” from A Hangover You Don’t Deserve. This, their ninth album, doesn’t stray too far from these two albums. The Great Burrito Extortion Case takes a not-so-serious look at the every day emotions and problems most of us face, delivered with what can only be described as “emo with a smile” style, or heavily pop-influenced punk. True punkers may take offense at that characterization, but I can assure you that Bowling for Soup doesn’t care what others think.
At least in song, Bowling for Soup is tired of all the depressed lyrics and mood associated with emo and punk music; in the song “I’m Gay” (they mean the roaring ’20s definition of the word) they sing “Don’t hate us ’cause we’re happy.” With a riff that strongly resembles “Dirty Little Secret,” they bash the music of the tortured soul. They observe it’s “super-cool to be mad these days,” and declare, “It’s perfectly fine to be a happy individual.” If you see humor in America’s youth wearing all black and wearing their depression on their sleeves, I promise the song – and the album – will give you a smile.
It’s only one of several moods the album contains. “99 Biker Friends” offers vengeance toward an abusive man, “Luckiest Loser” explores the ‘best friend running off with a former girlfriend’ scenario, (“You both suck dot com”), and “Val Kilmer” describe what the singer’s life would be like if it were a movie. There is balance found in the ballads the CD offers – “If You Come Back to Me,” and “Why Don’t I Miss You” – but don’t forget this is Bowling For Soup. Don’t expect your typical heartbroken lament or soul searching song. No, instead they turn the pain into bitter yet witty scorn.
I think the largest appeal of Bowling For Soup is their ability to not take themselves or the lyrical topics too seriously. They deliver three and half minute slices of life that say “Yeah, life sort of sucks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t laugh about it.” Musically they are great blend of power pop, emo, and grunge.
As for that class reunion I happily skipped last year, as Bowling for Soup would suggest in “High School Never Ends,” I have “the same three friends, and I still listen to the same shit I did back then.” If I wanted to reminisce about high school, I’d call one of them up, or we’d jump in a car and drive 200 miles to see an ’80s band on a remember when tour… or better yet, we’d go catch Bowling For Soup, who I had the pleasure of catching recently. Their live show is as much fun as this release.
Check out the video for “High School Never Ends,” the first single from The Great Burrito Extortion Case which hits store shelves today. Longtime fans of the band will not be disappointed, and if you haven’t checked them out, you should. You won’t be disappointed, either.