Shapeshifter is the sophomore album from Chicago based pop punkers, Knuckle Puck. Two years on from their killer debut, Copacetic, which earned them a nomination for album of the year at the 2016 Alternative Press Music Awards, the energetic five piece have produced something with obvious authenticity.
The Windy City has long been seen as hotbed of emo and pop punk activity and the nostalgia that Knuckle Puck’s aesthetic inspires only strengthens that perception. This quintet has expressed how proud they are of what they have forged with their blood, sweat and talent…and rightly so.
Halfway through the production process, they found themselves unhappy with what they were creating and made that all important decision to begin again from scratch. For a band to recognize that the quality of their creation could be in jeopardy and then actually make that leap to rebuild is admirable. Thankfully Knuckle Puck pushed themselves and reconstructed what they had already built, inevitably creating something of quality that they believe to be far more true to themselves and their identity.
Throughout the album, there is an emphasis on the vocals that gives you no choice but to pay attention to the introspective lyricism. True to the genre, the familiar vocal style and lyrical themes are what makes Shapeshifter a comfortable production for long time pop punk fans. ‘Double Helix’ is one of the punchier tracks that proves this. It was offered up as the first single a few months after the album announcement and is certainly one of the best and catchiest tracks.
The most recent single ‘Want Me Around’ leads in a little softer than its predecessor and like many of the songs, is emotionally charged in a more forlorn direction. With lyrical gems such as “you always did feel just like home,” ‘Wait’ is another such gentle, passion filled tune with the right mixture of tempo and vocals.
Each track has its own defining moment but the album as a whole flows quite well, from the general sombre beginnings to the building heartfelt exclamations and back again. There aren’t any surprises or truly memorable moments, but Shapeshifter does not disappoint in any way, shape or form.
It’s easy to see that this is not a group keen on pushing musical boundaries, not due to a fear of experimentation but rather thanks to the fact that they’re fully aware of their identity. Their authenticity shines through proving that there’s no room for compromise with this lot. Their name may have been born of a phrase on a Stick To Your Guns tee, but their style most certainly powers through like the infamous Mighty Ducks slapshot.
Shapeshifter is available now from Rise Records.