Knuckle Puck – Shapeshifter

Neo-pop-punk music for the most part just sucks. It’s filled with ultra-fake production, sing-songy vocals, too many slow half-time beats, too much pop, and not enough punk. It’s essentially Kid’s Bop with a few “fucks” thrown in. It’s unbearable. Every once in a while, though, you hear a band and you think there might just be hope for the genre yet. Knuckle Puck are one of those bands and their latest record, Shapeshifter, makes you become a little less cynical, at least for a while.

Knuckle Puck’s single for new the record, “Double Helix” is a bit deceiving. Although the song has some of the trappings that always come along with the genre, it’s a little more meaty and creative than your typical pop-punk fare. “Double Helix” has the right amount of heaviness and taste. It goes down easy. There are other songs that repeat this formula on the record and it appears that Knuckle Puck have finally found their unique voice in the genre, but Shapeshifter doesn’t start out very strong at all. The opening track, “Nervous Passenger,” is an extremely weak opening track. It’s too slow, too muddy, too poppy, and way too cliché-ridden. Putting this song up first sets a bad tone for the rest of the album. The song’s only saving grace is that it’s the shortest song on the record coming in at a mere minute-and-a-half. Compared to the other nine songs on the record, it doesn’t even make sense.

Knuckle Puck bounce back with the harder and faster “Twist,”” although there seems to be something off-putting about this song, a kind of off-time, untight, or sloppy element at play here. Still, at least it’s more rock ‘n’ roll than the first track. This leads right into “Double Helix,” which has already been discussed, but should have probably been the opening the track. “Gone,” “Everyone Lies To Me,” “Stuck In Our Ways,” and “Wait” all work but still don’t live up to the quality and energy of “Double Helix.”

Go ahead and get your pillow and blanket ready for nap time ’cause “Want Me Around,” “Conduit,” and “Plastic Brains” may have been designed for some kind of sleep study. The kids that Knuckle Puck play to are not going to like these songs nor are actual adults. A swing and a miss with these.

So, we have one terrible song, one good song, one mediocre song, four okay songs, and three snooze fests. That’s not so good, but it’s better than the competition. Knuckle Puck is better than Neck Deep and The Wonder Years. Those bands suck. Knuckle Puck has potential.

Knuckle Puck