THE BOUNCING SOULS – Comet (Chunksaah Records)

Few bands have defined the DIY ideal like New Jersey’s Bouncing Souls. From ragtag basement-show punks to international headliners, the Souls have built their own little self-contained music industry, with everything from merchandise to bookings to their record label owned and operated by a small group of friends.

Comet finds the boys in top form, with several tracks – the utterly infectious “DFA,” the more reflective “Comet,” the politically-aware “Static” – among the best they’ve ever written. Yes, they can still be goofy – “We Love Fun” is nothing but an excuse to mosh and get silly – and romantic -“Coin Toss Girl” shows they haven’t lost their grasp on adolescent puppy love. But tracks like “Baptized” and “Infidel” reflect the band’s more mature side, while the roiling “Infidel” sounds like it was ripped from the Bad Religion songbook. The acoustic “Ship In A Bottle” ends the perfectly-paced 10-song album with the same message the Bouncing Souls have trumpeted since their infancy – that anything is possible, even for hopeless romantics and punk rock losers like us (“oh my good friends, let’s start something, then throw it all out to the waves / how many mountains will we conquer? we’ll never know till we begin.”)

– Jim Testa