Knuckle Puck’s new record Shapeshifter is their sophomore release and it is almost immediately identifiable as such. On this record, they confront emotional realities that many bands have faced, and in turn made records about, as their careers approached similar turning points. When home becomes a tour bus and identity is weighed down by growing fame and increasing distance from friends and family, memorable records like this are created. Though it is clearly a personal record for frontman Joe Taylor lyrically, it is relatable as a coming of age identity struggle, on a gut level, for any listener.
Knuckle Puck’s sound falls under the umbrella of standard pop-punk, though it is tinged with a little more hardcore and punk influence at times. Their signature sound comes from the way they use pacing, delivery, and composition to match the lyrical environment of each track. On the albums first single “Gone,” a rushed beat conveys the stress of self-doubt, while the patience of “Conduit” creates a more tender and introspective mood. Fans of emo and pop-punk will be drawn to Shapeshifter but it is still not going to be a record that will crossover to more widespread audiences or fans of other genres.
What this album lacks in groundbreaking musicianship is made up for in palpable honesty. Lyrics like “Plastic Brains'” “losing who you thought you were is not the only thing at stake….is there any trace left of me?” convey the struggle for a sense of self that Shapeshifter is all about. For Knuckle Puck, however, it is not all about the lyrics. There is a gut level honesty that emanates through every detail of the record, even when it is uncomfortable or painful. The emotional and personal investment that has been put into this album bleeds from it as it plays, staining each track with a sense of overwhelming and magnetic truth.
Still, Shapeshifter never falls into a place that is sonically too dark. Even on heavier tracks like “Double Helix” and “Everyone Lies to Me,” there is a relentless catchiness and pop sentiment present. This will translate well live as Knuckle Puck continues their massive world tour through January. As far as sophomore releases go, Shapeshifter‘ is strong. I anticipate we will only see better things from Knuckle Puck as they develop their identity and honesty further.
To purchase Knuckle Puck’s new album Shapeshifter, click here!
The band will be rolling through Los Angeles on October 22nd with a date at the Teragram Ballroom. For ticket information visit www.teragramballroom.com.