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Album Review: Shapeshifter by Knuckle Puck

Chicago pop punks Knuckle Puck release their sophomore album Shapeshifter on 13th October via Rise Records. Midway through the recording process, the band (vocalist Joe Taylor, guitarists Nick Casasanto and Kevin Maida, bassist Ryan Rumchaks and drummer John Siorek) realized they were on the wrong path. They weren’t only making the wrong album for Knuckle Puck – they were making the wrong album for themselves. They knew they had no choice but to start from scratch.

“Having such a struggle and being so disconnected in the recording process felt wrong,” Casasanto explains. “It felt so wrong, and we were all afraid to talk about it. There was some denial when we realized what was unfolding.” The band changed producers, eventually landing back with producer Seth Henderson (who was at the helm for their 2015 debut Copacetic), and began rebuilding the songs they’d written from the ground up.

Despite its title, Shapeshifter isn’t a reinvention for Knuckle Puck, nor does it explore different genres. Perhaps more to do with the difficulty in writing and recording the album rather than its content, it certainly won’t pose any challenges or surprises for anyone familiar with the band. On the surface, it’s a pop punk album by the numbers. Dig a little deeper you’ll find a band struggling with their identity as young adults and finding their feet in the world. It’s a fuck you to the people holding you back and the people controlling you – all with a touch of a light at the end on the tunnel. “I hope the album instills a little bit of hope in people,” Casasanto says. “You look at politics and how fast the world is now, everything the internet is bringing to the world. It’s difficult to form an identity when there’s so much in your face. I hope people realize they should consume the things that really speak to them. Through that, I feel like it’s the most satisfying way to be who you want to be.”

At the end of the day though, it is all a little predictable. Pop punk often falls foul of sounding like a teenager’s lament, whilst Knuckle Puck aren’t free from guilt on that score they manage to largely avoid it due the quality. As pop punk goes it’s pretty good. ‘Everyone Lies to Me’ and ‘Want Me Around’ are excellent tracks, before lead single ‘Want Me Around’ showcases their knack for crunchy chords, muscular choruses and their ability to make a song stick in your head.

A pleasant album albeit nothing special. Knuckle Puck haven’t pushed on with this release but rather found where their comfortable.

AD Rating 7/10

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