Has there ever been a more reliably enjoyable punk rock band over the past three decades than The Bouncing Souls? The band has returned with their 12th full-length studio album, called Ten Stories High, and they sound as energetic and focused as ever. On the title track, lead vocalist Greg Attonito explained, “During the studio sessions we realized we wanted a song to summarize the process and tell the story of the project. One afternoon during the session we came up with the title ‘Ten Stories High’ and matched it up with a melody that Pete and Bryan had recorded earlier on their phones. We really liked how the title added imagery of ten people in a ten story building living out their own external and internal experiences. It was a perfect summary to the project. After a few hours of tinkering with the music and words we had our title track for the record!” The band will be embarking on a comprehensive US tour with Anti-Flag starting this April, and with a slick new record in their repertoire, it will be a show you don’t want to miss.
The album opens brilliantly with the title track about the beauty of traveling from city to city, and the personality each new area brings. Attonito sings passionately on the first verse, “All of the faces change through every town / Ruins new foundations scattered on the ground / Every gem hidden inside / Working backwards in a search to find,” as he reminisces about the adventures that can be found by traveling the world. “Back To Better” follows the crisp opening track with some great, bouncy guitar riffs from Pete Steinkopf that allows for the lyrics to shine over the music. “Another Day In Denver” unfolds with veteran ease as the pre-chorus builds up to the anthemic lines of, “Another day, let’s play / It’s another night in Denver / A place so close to me / Let’s stay, let’s play / It’s another night in Denver / No place I’d rather be / Today.” It becomes even clearer that The Bouncing Souls live for performing, and they truly enjoy their title of “road warriors.”
The middle section of the LP never loses its early momentum, even with mid-tempo songs like “True Believer Radio.” Attonito remembers the early days of wanting to be in a band in the second verse of, “All I had was my stack of songs / And my own rules to play by / Now I’m here with my painted rose / And all I learned talking through that microphone,” as he makes himself that much more relatable through his band’s songs. “Shannon’s Song” rocks along with veteran ease, and the steady drumbeat by George Rebelo expands strategically as the song gets going, and he adds some interesting fills between the end of each line in the verses. The only song that sounds drastically different than the rest of the shiny material is “Andy and Jackie,” that starts off featuring bassist Bryan Kienlen in the verses before exploding into a sing-a-long chorus to prevent the material from getting too dark.
”Vin and Casey” gets the pace back up to a more comfortable speed for the punk veterans, while “Magnus Air Organ” focuses on the vocals on Attonito to tell the story the band wants to convey. Other late standouts like “To Be Human” find the band experimenting with different pacing and song structures to keep things interesting, while my personal favorite, “Higher Ground” starts cautiously before exploding out of the speakers with the chorus of, “We’re gonna make it to / Higher ground with you / It’s been years chasing these fears / It’s time to break through / To the higher ground.”
In many ways, Ten Stories High is a love letter to touring and playing for fans both new and old in each city they travel to. The Bouncing Souls know what they are good at, and they do their style to near-perfection on an album that will translate really well to the live setting. These ten songs demand to be played loud with the windows down to share the positive messages this band lives through with the rest of the world.