Knuckle Puck – 20/20
Released: September 18th, 2020
Joe Taylor // vocals
Nick Casasanto // guitars/vocals
Kevin Maida // guitars
John Siorek // drums
Ryan Rumchaks // bass
US pop punk act Knuckle Puck have gone from strength to strength since their 2015 debut album, Copacetic. The Chicago five-piece followed that up with 2017’s Shapeshifter which saw them gain an increased following from many corners of the world, including a stint on Australia’s UNIFY Gathering in 2018. For their third full-length, suitably titled 20/20, Knuckle Puck have gone all out, and this might actually be the best thing to come out of this year.
20/20 kicks off with the title track and that opening intro riff makes you feel the same way your first morning coffee does, waking up on a summery morning. Melodically, it’s a feelgood anthem that sets the scene for what’s to come, perfectly summed up in the lyric, “I can finally see clearly, as if my vision’s 20/20, everything is temporary…”. This extended introduction is followed up with ‘Tune You Out’, which was our first taste of the album earlier this year. It’s an angst-filled tune reminiscent of the mid-2000’s emo/punk antics about giving others space to grow and is just an all-out infectious little number for the OG pop punk fans.
Knuckle Puck have really stepped it up on another level musically on this record. The riffs are bigger and tighter than we’ve ever heard from them before, and that is pretty evident on ‘Sidechain’. Paired with a catchy chorus and pop sensibilities similar to what we heard from State Champs’ The Finer Things and oh my, it’s a damn good time. ‘Earthquake’ kinda makes you wanna jump in the car, grab your best mate, turn up the stereo real loud and drive down the coast. Knock on wood, the world hasn’t experienced a large-scale earthquake this year yet, but this fun-fuelled summer anthem will shake you into the right mood.
The good times haven’t stopped yet, and ‘RSVP’ is hands down my favourite song to come out of 20/20 (and that doesn’t just reference the album). An anthem for saying goodbye to those negative energies in your life in order to make way for the positive, the song oozes infectious melodies and punchy singalong choruses that maintains the band’s position as being a frontrunner in the current pop punk landscape. To help them give more of an edge on this record, Knuckle Puck have recruited Mayday Parade’s Derek Sanders onboard for ‘Breathe’, which couldn’t be a more appropriate song right now. Reassuring us all with the line “Tough times ahead, and that’s okay, exhale but don’t blow out the flame…” further tightens vocalists Joe Taylor and Nick Casasanto’s songwriting ability more than ever before. If we ever needed an upbeat meditation anthem, this is it, for sure.
We’ve officially just hit the halfway mark of 20/20, and the boys show zero signs of slowing down. ‘What Took You So Long?” sees the band soaring to new heights here in a belter about coming to terms and finding peace within themselves. I haven’t been all over a sound like this since The Story So Far’s Under Soil and Dirt, and this album comes pretty darn close to that. ‘Into the Blue’ takes the cake for the best intro riff of the record, transcending into a consistent melody whilst holding onto feelings of exhilaration.
The band finally take a moment to slower the pace (just slightly though) with ‘Green Eyes (Polarized)’, marking the end of “one good thing to another”. It perfectly accentuates the band’s musical transition on this album, as we watched them burst into energy from Shapeshifter, and then on 20/20 quietly blossoming into a stand out pop punk act that have honed in on catchier, heartfelt melodies. ‘True North’ sees the melancholy energy return, the band maintaining their newer, edgier and positively upbeat selves as they sing their heart out about their hometown of Chicago. C’mon, they’re a pop punk band after all. Finishing 20/20 with a heartfelt gesture, ‘Miles Away‘ cements the notion that Knuckle Puck have come so far from their earlier days Casasanto and Taylor reflecting on the band’s career, leaving them wondering if “time is running out” for them? Not at all, because these guys have killed it.
Contrary to what the year 2020 has thrown at us so far, Knuckle Puck’s third album is in fact, quite the opposite. 20/20 sees the band hone in on catchier melodies, as if the band can finally see clearer than ever before. It’s the record we all need in our lives right now because every song is just so positively uplifting. The boys have absolutely outdone themselves here, putting them on top of the pop punk game this year. By the time a band releases their third release, it’s generally the rise or gradual decline of the band. However, we’re talking about Knuckle Puck here, and they’re not going anywhere. Hindsight’s 20/20 for these guys from here on out. Jam this album now, and play it as loud as you can.
Knuckle Puck – 20/20 tracklisting:
2. Tune You Out
6. Breathe (feat. Derek Sanders)
7. What Took You So Long?
8. Into The Blue
9. Green Eyes (Polarized)
10. True North
11. Miles Away