Label: Rise Records
Release Date: 18th September 2020
"20/20 goes to show just how fun the pop-punk genre can be: it doesn’t need to be filled with gimmicks."
Chicago’s own Knuckle Puck have dropped their latest release in the form of 20/20. Their third studio album, it oozes with positivity: the band are at their most upbeat and forward-thinking on 20/20, which marks a stark contrast to previous works, notably their second album, Shapeshifter.
The album opens with title track ‘20/20', and despite being a relatively by the book pop-punk song, it does a great job of showing what is to come on the thirty-four-minute run time. ‘20/20’ wouldn’t go amiss being played loudly from a car radio on a sunny afternoon: the chorus is infectious, with frontman Joe Taylor singing “I can finally see clearly / As if my vision is 20/20 / and everything is temporary.” It’s catchy, demonstrating that Knuckle Puck have a knack for writing pieces of music which are both fun and simple. Things continue on an upward trajectory over the next two tracks, ‘Tune You Out’ and ‘Side Chain’, which are just as fun.
Quite simply, ‘Earthquake’ is one of the best pieces of music that Knuckle Puck have ever written, and equally one of the best songs released in 2020. It is quintessentially carefree, demonstrating that good songs don’t need to be the most complex thing ever to be enjoyable. The hooks are the best on the album, and yes, it’s a little bit cheesy with lyrics such as “You look so good, you've got me confused / I can't just cover it up like your first tattoo / You got me shook, trippin' over my shoes / An earthquake ain't nothin' compared to you”, but it works extremely well in the context of the song. It’s definitely the sonic highlight of the album.
The momentum created so far on the album is kept alive during the middle section. Tracks such as ‘Breathe’ with its guest feature from Mayday Parade's Derek Sanders, offers a bit of vocal variation, whilst ‘RSVP’, with its driving guitar parts, is another strong point on the album. In fact, there isn’t a dull point. ‘Miles Away’ is the closing track, and does more than a satisfactory job to end things on. It feels simultaneously melancholy and uplifting, which is an odd combination to come by, but just goes to show the scope of musicianship.
20/20 goes to show just how fun the pop-punk genre can be: it doesn’t need to be filled with gimmicks. Knuckle Puck have delivered an album that should be in the collection of every fan of the genre. Filled with feel-good energy and a carefree attitude towards life, 20/20 is an album that should be played when your spirits are down, which is especially important in the contemporary environment.
Words by John Canham.
20th September 2020.