by Johnny Loftus
The success of the slaphappy
Hangover You Don't Deserve
singles "1985" and "Almost" warrants this reissue of Bowling for Soup's first album, 1998's Rock On Honorable Ones!!! It was originally released on the tiny Texas label FFORE, but as the sticker on the front of Jive 's version says, it's "finally available to all non-Texans!" The BFS template is alive and thriving on Rock On -- it's by-the-numbers bash 'n' pop-punk in the vein of
. But while fierce originality isn't their game, being fun and clever and avoiding filler certainly is.
writes songs about insecurity, girls, and insecurity because of girls, and he's unabashedly first-person about it all. "I have no idea what I did," he says in the breakup song "Corndog," and then he polls the audience. "Let me ask you, do you think I was wrong?" It's an endearing trick, and gives Bowling for Soup's songs a weight they might not otherwise have. In this way the band suggests Boston's
Mighty Mighty Bosstones
, whose own style is a hyper mixture of charisma, honesty, punk, metal, and ska. (That comparison is even more apt for Rock On Honorable Ones!!!, since cuts like "2113" and "Belgium" make good use of a horn section.) "Scope," "Kool-Aid," and "Cody" are just rock songs with pieces snatched from
and punk rock. But
wavers between lovable haplessness and dumbfounded luck, the songs are always jacked with high-volume guitar, and they hold up longer than you might expect.