Alec Reviews Music: Knuckle Puck expands sound with ‘Shapeshifter’

Alec Erickson

Shapeshifting is one thing that Knuckle Puck is not doing, at least not with their sophomore release.

Album cover for Knuckle Puck's Shapeshifter
Photo Courtesy: iTunes

Instead, we see the band that has provided a more thought provoking and meaningful pop-punk style that can not only survive, but thrive. This is one group that has proven to be more insightful with their lyrics and more inspiring fans to think deeper and differently about the music they listen to. Knuckle Puck managed to shake up a lot of the pop-punk scene with their debut record “Copacetic” and now is looking to the same thing again. Knuckle Puck has never been your stereotypical pop-punk band and does not aim to be on “Shapeshifter.”

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Knuckle Puck is based out of Chicago, Illinois and has been making a name for themselves in the last seven years alone. The groups debut, “Copacetic,” was released in 2015 and even before then the band has always been one of the few front runners of the pop-punk scene post 2010.  “Copacetic” was powerful, raw and insightful for a young new band. They were still rough around the edges, vocalist Joe Taylor always managed to bring in a completely new passion on each track and overall, they had their own style and brand that fit them in a large and diluted scene. They are looking to get over the sophomore slump with the release of “Shapeshifter,” which takes all the years of experience and brings in a whole new refined Knuckle Puck to the scene.

“Shapeshifter” is a 10-track record that clocks in at around 32 minutes in length. Right out the gate, you will find that the band has not compromised anything from their integrity or their sound when it came to making this record. “Shapeshifter” is passionate, loud and in your face every step of the way and that is exactly what you want from a band like Knuckle Puck. This is an album that no matter where you jump in, you cannot help but feel the energy and start moving around or shouting along to every word that you can.

Musically, we notice a larger more refined sound on “Shapeshifter” without Knuckle Puck losing any integrity. This record that is larger in style, production and texture. From the lead track, “Nervous Passenger,” we are treated to a slow build that ultimately creates a huge wall of sound that encompasses the listener. Everything from the keyboards to guitar riffs and percussion are all done with purpose and work to complement each other instead of being there for the sake of it. When you listen to tracks like “Gone” or “Want Me Around” we hear Knuckle Puck take some progression styles and give them a slight twist so that instead of being a cliché pop-punk anthem they are more genuine and unique. Tracks like “Twist” and “Conduit” are built upon the idea of having accompanying layers in the mix, and it works well from start to finish. Each song is built to not only complement one another but to take the listener on a ride from start to finish.

Lyrically, “Shapeshifter” is a lot more deliberate than the group’s debut. This time around, there are not nearly as many lyrics that will have listeners scrambling to Google to look up a meaning to a word, but instead we see that the band begins to mold their style a bit more. When things slow down on tracks like “Conduit” we can hear just how perfectly each line was written for the whole song. There is a huge amount of passion on this record and that is clear when you listen to songs like “Double Helix” or “Plastic Brains.” Knuckle Puck worked to bring something that was meant to hit home with their listeners and “Shapeshifter” is just that at its core. Lyrics are poignant and pure, but instilled with enough tenacity that they always stick with you long after listening for you and in many ways that is something you don’t necessarily get with a sophomore record.

Should you listen to it? Absolutely!

Knuckle Puck are not necessarily trying to find their sound, in a sense they found that a long time ago, instead “Shapeshifter” is a record that they experimented in making something more for themselves. If people happen to enjoy it then good for them, but the fact of the matter is that Knuckle Puck can completely redefine what makes a solid pop-punk album with little to no compromise on their part and that is impressive. They may not be changing, but maybe the scene will after they listen to “Shapeshifter.”

Band info:

Several members work on side projects such as Rationale and Homesafe.

The group has toured with many pop-punk heavy hitters such as State Champs, Seaway, Neck Deep and Sorority Noise

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The band name originated from a Stick To Your Guns T-shirt.

Collegian Reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @CTV_Ace.