Knuckle Puck just released their second LP, Shapeshifter and it’s the kind of record you’ll be head-banging to on your way to and from work. What I love about Knuckle Puck is that their albums are consistently energetic and melodic, and Shapeshifter does not disappoint. Although it is not as thematic as Copacetic (Knuckle Puck’s debut LP), Shapeshifter is just as lyrically candid and musically vibrant.
“Shapeshifter, there’s no way back”
(“Gone” — Knuckle Puck)
The album begins with “Nervous Passenger,” a short track that begins with a melodic guitar and background noise from a train. It immediately made me feel like I was a passenger waiting for the train to stop. Joe Taylor’s voice shines through the mix and brings the listener into his nervousness and longing to go somewhere. The lyrics repeat themselves and quickly take the listener on a dynamic journey into songs like “Twist” and “Gone,” which will definitely inspire mosh-pits during their live set.
The way that the band combines angst-ridden melodies and lyrics has always been incredibly smart; lyrics like “Got lost in a vanilla sky” (“Twist”) and “They’ll buy your pride and make you want what they don’t know how to sell” (“Everyone Lies to Me”) are pure poetry, and at the same time, much catchier and moving than pop/punk clichés of “hating this town” or wanting pizza. Knuckle Puck’s work is both accessible and intellectual, making Shapeshifter a stand-out record for a broader audience.
“They say that time heals everything/But what if time is everything?”
(“Want Me Around” — Knuckle Puck)
“Want Me Around” is one of my favorite tracks off of the record. While its song structure is more traditional, it’s an emotionally honest song about a relationship torn apart by distance and secrets. It’s about that relatable feeling of losing someone and wondering if they’re thinking about you too. Taylor sings “Afraid to call and see what’s good/Or is it simply understood/There’s a reason you don’t want me around” (“Want Me Around”). This is the kind of song to put on your favorite breakup-song playlist.
In short, this record continues to remind me how smart Knuckle Puck is as a band. Their ways of discussing such relevant topics as love, loss, politics, and corruption make their art so much more dimensional and note-worthy. The hard-hitting drums and distorted guitars all emphasize the importance of these subjects, and make the listener feel just as passionate and restless for change.
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