Bowling For Soup’s 12th — yes, 12th — album, “Lunch. Drunk. Love,” is concrete proof that pop punk isn’t dead. Since 1994, the Texas band has made a career out of pairing witty and often comedic lyrics with power pop guitar riffs and high-pitched vocals. This worked well in 2005, when the band’s single, “1985″ soared to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. But if “c.” is any indication of the band’s development, not much has changed.
The band’s opening track, “Critically Disdained” delivers an uncharacteristic acoustic break opening before delving into trustworthy Bowling For Soup guitar riffs and meaningless lyrics at the 45-second mark. And it rocks.
“Since We Broke Up” could have been seamlessly released in 2004 alongside Bowling For Soup’s megahit “1985.” Or it could have been released in 2013. Cue the heavy emphasis on the “na na nas.”
While a vast majority of the album’s 13 tracks largely serve as throwbacks to pop punk’s golden age, a few stand out as more interesting, mature ballads. “Real” tosses out the band’s routine comedic edge for an honest and sappy declaration of authenticity: “I can never live up to / The man that’s in your head / You want the guy from ‘The Notebook’ / But you got me instead.”
That’s not to say their new songs aren’t any fun. As any member of their loyal fanbase will testify, all of Bowling For Soup’s songs are fun to listen to. But this may be their most substantial album yet.
Content-wise, “Lunch. Drunk. Love” is the pop punk purist’s gold mine. The bouncy track “Right About Now” is rife with a well-placed reference to Blink-182 (“Counting 182 / lights are blinking on the screen”) while “And I Think You Like Me Too” throws back to their legacy: “I asked if you have ever heard ’1985′ / You just looked to me like I was strange.”
Lead singer Jaret Reddick continues to please a crowd with enough tongue-in-cheek lyrics to rival Fall Out Boy’s 2005 album, “From Under the Cork Tree.” The band recently announced their final U.K. tour, but you can’t help but wonder if Bowling For Soup meant to head out with a bang.
Some tracks on the album are not as happy-go-lucky as the band’s previous hits, but “Lunch. Drunk. Love” is sure to deliver on nostalgia alone.
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