Album Review: Knuckle Puck - Shapeshifter

Written by Daniel Rourke

It's fair to say that the pop-punk scene has become somewhat trite and cliched over the past few years, so much so that the genre that once produced greats such as Green Day and Blink-182 has become more consistent in producing known abusers than it has good music. Of course, within the cliched masses of broken-hearted dudes singing in awkwardly forced accents, there is some hope - with bands such as Knuckle Puck paving the way for a more emotive and genuine take on the genre.

Knuckle Puck started working on the follow-up to their debut album, 'Copacetic', earlier this year, but soon found themselves scrapping the record and it's original producer over the loss of the band's identity. It's this series of events which led to them re-hiring 'Copacetic' producer Seth Henderson and recording their second studio album, 'Shapeshifter'.

As you may have guessed, 'Shapeshifter' largely centers around the importance of identity, and it's a theme that is prevalent from the first few lines of album opener, Nervous Passenger, bursting into full effect on follow-up Twist.

It's in the album's second single Double Helix in which the true quality of Knuckle Puck can be seen, as the simple pop-punk hooks are paired with some fantastic metaphors and anthemic chorus to produce a truly wonderful track that plays directly into the overarching theme of the record. Lead single Gone swiftly follows, and will surely draw comparisons to the likes of The Wonder Years.

It's within the middle section of the record where it begins to come clear just how good Knuckle Puck are - and how laughably bad some of the genres leading bands actually are - with the flurry of Everyone Lies To Me, Stuck In Our Ways and Want Me Around all hitting seamlessly, with the latter being one of the standout tracks on the record.

The pace is dialed back towards the end of the record as the emphasis is put onto the lyrical content rather than the glorious hooks - and while lyrically the Chicago quintet can occasionally be slightly cringe-inducing, it works extremely well, adding depth to the record and the band's sound.

Overall, 'Shapeshifter' proves that pop-punk isn't a genre that is failing to produce good music - whilst it may be few and far between, it is there. The record may not be anything revolutionary in terms of sound, but it does what it sets out to do flawlessly without coming across as tiresome.