By Bowling For Soup
'Sorry For Partyin' is Bowling For Soup's tenth studio album and, while it's definitely not a case of all killer, no filler, it's a fan-pleasing slab of the tried-and-tested Bowling For Soup formula: sexual innuendoes; big, pop-infused choruses; hidden tracks, and plenty of tongue-in-cheek lyrics. We've heard this all before, but if you loved it the first nine times around, then prepare to love it again.
'My Wena,' the first single to be lifted off 'Sorry For Partyin,' is classic Bowling For Soup. It's no 'High School Never Ends' or 'Punk Rock 101,' but it could give singles such as 'Almost' and '1985' a run for their money. It has more entertainment value than a customary first listen would suggest; frontman Jaret Reddick delivers every line in such a wickedly hooky way, that you'll be humming away long after the song's finished. It's also so jam-packed with double entendres, that you can't possibly catch them all on the first listen. A third, forth, fifth listen is required to fully appreciate just how much freshmen humour Bowling For Soup manage to pack into just under three minutes.
If 'My Wena' was exactly what you were hoping for from Bowling For Soup's tenth release, then dyed-in-the-wool BFS tracks 'Hooray For Beer' and 'BFFF' are also sure to hit the spot. 'Hooray For Beer' embraces every love song cliche, before launching into a group shout-a-long of "hooray for beer / I'm really glad you're here!" The gag should wear thin after the first minute, but Bowling For Soup have the ability to take a single dumb joke and perfectly execute it, throughout the duration of the song, without it ever seeming like they're flogging a dead horse.
'BFFF' is as hilariously quotable as it is sing-along friendly, packed with wonderfully awkward declarations of bro-love. "I know you'll say I'm gay / when I tell you I really truly feel this way / not that there's anything wrong with being gay," Reddick sings in an hilariously roundabout chorus, before declaring "I'm trying to say I love you / in a heterosexual way." 'BFFF' is a warm, fuzzy song, laced with just enough tales of "farting and burping in the same key" and poking fun at one another's receding hairlines, to make it feel touchingly and humorously real, rather than Hollywood-sentimental.
Also firmly routed in Bowling For Soup's back catalogue, but with more of a serious slant, are 'I Don't Wish You Were Dead Anymore' and 'If Only.' Reddick resumes his 'loveable loser' persona for 'If Only.' It alternates between a towering, melodic chorus about being unlucky in love, and increasingly funny answering machine messages, which are underpinned by a catchy, crackly bass pulse. Bowling For Soup have employed the answering machine message to laughter-inducing effect before, and 'If Only's answering-machine conclusion, is guaranteed to leave you smiling.
Despite having one of the best titles for a 'moving on' song ever, 'I Don't Wish You Were Dead Anymore' smacks a little too strongly of Bowling For Soup treading water. It's basically a poppier take on 'Last Call Casualty,' 'Really Might Be Gone' and the like. Although it'll get you singing merrily along, Bowling For A Soup have done this sort of thing before and, more importantly, done it better. Plus, the baby clapping and enthusing "good, good job! Good, good job!" at the end, is just plain creepy.
Bowling For Soup albums usually feature a handful of serious songs, and 'Sorry For Partyin' is no exception, with a straight-faced double header of 'Only Young' and 'Me With No You.' The latter, is a big, heartfelt, lighters-in-the-air ballad. The lyrics do occasionally seem to go wherever the rhyme takes them ("I'm a star without a sky / a hello with no goodbye") which prevents 'Me With No You' from making any lasting emotional impact. Still, whenever that arena-sized chorus kicks in, you'll fall hook, link and sinker for those massive vocal lines - even if what Reddick is singing doesn't make an awful lot of sense.
Thankfully, 'Only Young' is a more coherent song. One big, long outpouring of emotion, it has 'Closing Number To A Rom Com' written all over it. With lyrics declaring "legends never die" and "this is the best day of our lives," it should be nauseating, but Bowling For Soup's legendary charisma, means they can pull off this punk rock ballad with aplomb. Or, maybe part of its appeal is that there's something defiant and encouraging about Reddick penning and singing a song about wide-eyed, youthful optimism, ten albums into his career.
But, if you're suffering from Bowling For Soup fatigue, 'I Gotchoo,' 'No Hablo Ingles,' 'A Really Cool Dance Song' and 'America (Wake Up Amy)' offer something a little bit different, to varying degrees of success. The strongest of the four, is album highlight 'A Really Cool Dance Song.'
"This song sounds like a dance song / because dance songs are cool now / I can't wait to hear the remix!" Reddick sings on the synth-packed album opener. Like 'Punk Rock 101,' the genius of the joke, is that 'A Really Cool Dance Song' is as good as the chart-topping electro-pop-rock songs it's poking fun at it. Once you get over the horror of Bowling For Soup using synths, 'A Really Cool Dance Song' is a timely, hilarious send-up of the current scene. Packed with lyrics that are as quotable and true to life as they are laugh-out-loud funny, Bowling For Soup prove that they still have something relevant and incisive to say. They even manage to get away with a spoken word end-section, where Reddick wonders why the drums have dropped out, before enthusing "we are dancing, dancing-dancing-dancing, this is awesome!" It should be supremely annoying, but Bowling For Soup don't just get away with it - they have you laughing along. 'A Really Cool Dance Song' is begging for a single release, if only because the music video would be hilarious.
The Latin flavoured 'No Hablo Ingles' and the slick, Mediterranean groove of 'I Gotchoo' are also album high points. 'No Hablo Ingles' proposes that the title should be your stock answer to every awkward question, from "did you feed the fish?" to "why do you never ring your father on his birthday?" Again, it's one simple joke, perfectly executed, and the music follows suit, with a one-two beat that's simple but effective.
'I Gotchoo' will have some fans recoiling in horror, as Reddick adopts a funky, spoken word vocal style. On occasion, it is a little too slick, but Reddick quasi-rapping "fuzzy wuzzy was a bear / fuzzy wuzzy had no hair / fuzzy wuzzy wasn't fuzzy, was he?" is good for a laugh, even if you're a little unsure about Reddick's vocals. And 'I Gotchoo's slew of tongue-in-cheek "yeah" "uh-huh" "oooh" backing vocals, means there's no mistaking this as a serious attempt at a new direction for Bowling For Soup.
'America (Wake Up Amy)' will have you scratching your head as to whether Bowling For Soup have gone all political on us, with its rousing cry of "wake up America" and references to America "losing all her friends," before switching the word 'America' for 'Amy' halfway through the track. What this song is actually about, seems wide open to interpretation. Thankfully, its punkish clatter is laced with some of the album's slickest hooks: cries of "whoop! Whoop!" catchy voiceovers and main vocal echoes abound. And, of course, Reddick pumps that chorus so full of enthusiasm, that chances are you'll be singing along, even if you're not completely sure what you're singing about.
Look past 'Love Goes Boom's supremely annoying "luh-luh-luh-love" line, and some of the cheesier lyrics ("every time you walk in the room / love goes boom!") and it's groovily mid-tempo pop-punk. It may be a little too honey-coated in places, but Bowling For Soup just about manage to get away with it, thanks to a typically big, swaggering chorus and a handful of buzzy riffs, which brings an edge to 'Love Goes Boom's sticky sweetness.
Final song on the track listing is the brisk and breezy clatter of 'I Can't Stand LA.' Bowling For Soup take us on a jaunty sing-along around the US states, with a liberal helping of comical, call-and-response vocals. When they break off mid-song to explain the exact geographical location of one of the places mentioned, it cements 'I Can't Stand LA's status as the sound of a band cutting loose and having fun, which of course makes it even more fun to listen to.
After one of the 'in the studio' skits that have become a trademark of Bowling For Soup releases, we get another BFS staple: the hidden track. 'Belgium Polka' is a dizzying, oompa-oompa, accordion-and-fiddle-crammed jig, spun into a carnival-music frenzy. All Bowling For Soup band members contribute vocals, which is a fan-pleasing touch, and ends Bowling For Soup's tenth studio album on a smile-inducing high note.
'Sorry For Partyin' has a sleeker, poppier production than previous releases, and some songs feel uncomfortably close to tracks from Bowling For Soup's back catalogue. But, taken as a whole, 'Sorry For Partyin' is a guaranteed good time, packed with genuine emotion; quotable lyrics and unashamedly poppy choruses, spearheaded by Bowling For Soup's magnetic charisma. 'A Really Cool Dance Song' is up there with the best songs Bowling For Soup have ever written, and it's almost worth purchasing the album for this track alone. 'My Wena,' 'Only Young' 'BFFF' and 'Hooray For Beer' are also strong songs, and the rest of the album is consistently good, if slightly predictable Bowling For Soup material. 'Sorry For Partyin' will please existing fans, while 'A Really Cool Dance Song' will have said fans in fits of ecstasy.