Following on from a successful jaunt in the US and in support of their upcoming UK tour, Bowling for Soup, The Dolly Rots and Patent Pending have released a spilt cover album called ‘One Big Happy’.

The three bands each cover two songs from one another, as well as recording a brand new track. Given the collective pop punk nature of the bands, ‘One Big Happy’ is a bit like some sort of exclusive club. On the whole the record has little in musical variety and depth.

However, if you’re a fan of these bands (and let’s face it, at one time or another we all enjoyed a bit of Bowling for Soup) then this tasty little record is sure to please.

Let’s Go To the Pub”, Bowling for Soup’s new track, is classic BFS. Catchy melodies and tongue-in-cheek lyrics are in abundant supply. No, there really isn’t any musical growth here, but Bowling for Soup are pop punk survivors who have written plenty of hits, and while it’s clear that this won’t be one of them, its utter lack of depth and sheer directness are rather charming. Their covers of The Dolly Rot’s ‘My Heart Explodes’ and Patent Pending’s ‘Spin Me Around’ are both pleasant but ultimately unassuming interpretations that stick fairly close to the originals.

Next up are The Dolly Rots, who were always one of those bands just on the cusp of breakthrough success, without ever quite making it. Their consistently bratish pop punk has built a dedicated following. The Dolly Rots could be perpetually stuck in an early 2000′s faux-punk revival, and while they’re earnest and their musical influences are solid, overall the tracks here on ‘One Big Happy’ are fairly unremarkable. Having said that, in ‘Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya’ Kelly Ogden and Jaret Reddick’s duet is the clear stand out song of the record. Their vocals blend seamlessly and their ode to dysfunctional relationships oozes with charm.

Lastly we have Patent Pending, who are set on being pop punk’s next big thing. They have been touring solidly for the last few years, and despite setbacks caused by line up changes, they recently won a battle of the bands contest that saw them play to an audience of thousands at the Billboard Music Awards.  They seem like natural successors to Bowling for Soup’s crown. Their cover of ‘Shut Up and Smile’ bubbles with frenzied energy and saccharine melodies. The new song ‘Psycho in Love’ with its chugging chords and gang vocals is a humorous 3 minute dash, and it’s irritatingly catchy.

In conclusion the album as a whole is quite pointless outside of a touring situation, but it is a nice collection of songs by a group of musicians who approach music with the same carefree, three chords and go mentality. Fun for an afternoon.

CLARA CULLEN

3/5