Personnel: Pete Steinkopf (vocals, guitar); Bryan Kienlen, Greg Attonito (vocals); Tim Panella, George Rebelo (drums); Frank Iero, Ari Katz, Zach Moyle, Lou Koller, DJ Values (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: John Seymour.
Recording information: Lakehouse Studios, Asbury Park, NJ (02/2016).
Photographer: Mike McLaughlin.
Reflective and sentimental, yet unabashedly inclusive, the tenth studio long-player from the Jersey pop-punk veterans is both a wistful walk down memory lane and a nourishing plate of road trip-ready comfort food. Opening with the appropriately propulsive "Driving All Night," a big-hearted meditation on the existential richness of packing up and heading out without a clear destination, Simplicity finds the Bouncing Souls offering up another reliable and melodically rich set of populist punk-pop belly-warmers that should please both longtime fans and those just breaking in their first pair of Doc Martens. Flush with the warm rush of nostalgia, songs like "Euphoria," "Writing on the Wall," and "Satellite" sanguinely deliver the incisive four-chord verses and big group vocal choruses that have been the band's bread and butter for the last decade or so, and the more laid-back "Hero Zero" and "Up to Us" manage to avoid devolving into mawkish, good-old-days reverie, due in large part to the band's workmanlike execution and easy, Everyman sincerity. Still, there are some fraying edges to be found via the goofy, They Might Be Giants-esque "Hey Aliens" and the Dad-ish anti-technology rant "Digital Twilight Zone," but they're age-appropriate aberrations, and harmless ones at that. That the bandmembers sound like they're having a grand old time also helps to color in some of the gray, and like the Descendents and blink-182, both of whom also celebrated 2016 with new timeline-notable albums, they've traded in the encumbrance of cultural relevance for the sheer joy of music-making, which is, honestly, pretty punk. ~ James Christopher Monger